Did the CBC have its own Andy Warhol Screen Test?

Lou Reed, Edie Sedgwick, CBC. 51 years ago today, CBC met Andy Warhol at his New York City studio. Not one for being on TV, Warhol turned his own camera on CBC, filming a screen test with interviewer Andrew Sarris. Watch!

Lou Reed, Edie Sedgwick, CBC. Fifty-one years ago today, Warhol turned his camera on interviewer Andrew Sarris

"Ok, you're on! You can't talk!" Andy Warhol films CBC interviewer Andrew Sarris in his New York City studio. (CBC Digital Archives)

"Andy, what do you think about television?"

If only we could ask Andy Warhol that question today — to get his take on HBO's Vinyl, if nothing else — but when CBC met Warhol in his New York studio, they asked him that very question. That was 51 years ago today, and as the artist replies, he's fine with TV. He likes it. Soap operas and commercials, especially.

It's being on television that Warhol doesn't care for — and when you watch this segment, which originally aired on CBC's Show on Shows, that fact is harder to ignore than a neon-pink Marilyn. 

As the cameras roll, Warhol keeps his attention on his silkscreening, or his canvases — or anything but the interviewer, Andrew Sarris.

Got a question about pop art? Why don't you ask his agent?

But Warhol doesn't exactly throw the interview. If anything, he turns the TV appearance into a work of art, one that arguably explores all the feelings of discomfort and boredom, or whatever you might experience when a camera's staring you down.

Warhol's Screen Test series was still a new project, as he tells CBC in the clip. Gerard Malanga, one of the first to appear in the series, actually appears throughout the segment, helping Warhol in the studio. 

For interviewer and long-time Village Voice art critic Sarris, this was his chance to become a superstar and one of hundreds of people who'd eventually sit for a living portrait, films that were recently featured in the TIFF Bell Lightbox's exhibition of Warhol's work.

Warhol flips the interview scenario, getting out his own camera. Skip ahead to around the six-minute mark to watch him create the impromptu shoot.

"OK, you're on! You can't talk!" Warhol directs. And so begins four minutes of nervous laughter and silence.

Watch the clip.

For more throwbacks like this one, visit the CBC Digital Archives.


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