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November 9th, 2000
Warhol's Rarely Exhibited Screen Test Portraits in Museum's Video Gallery

From November 21, 2000 to January 7, 2001, the Philadelphia Museum of Art will present fifteen of Andy Warhol's seldom-exhibited screen tests, early experiments that extended into film the artist's fascination with portraiture and celebrity. On view continuously in the Video Gallery of the newly reinstalled Galleries of Modern and Contemporary Art, Andy Warhol:15 Screen Tests documents such Warhol-circle "celebrities" as Paul America and Ingrid Superstar and luminaries from the rock and art worlds, including Lou Reed of Velvet Underground, critic Susan Sontag, and dealer Ivan Karp.

Between 1964 and 1966 Andy Warhol (1928-1987) pioneered a unique type of cinematic portraiture. This compilation of recently restored footage on loan from the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh offers a rare sampling of the nearly five hundred such films produced in the Warhol Factory in New York.

In the screen tests, Warhol adopted a consistent, disarmingly straightforward approach in which each subject was asked to sit motionless before his stationary camera. Only light conditions vary in the resulting four-minute silent, black and white films that are deliberately projected in slightly slow motion. Warhol's method suggests a scientific experiment, measuring his sitters' reactions to the cinematic situation and documenting expressions that range from the carefully crafted masquerade of hipster cool to flashes of tension and vulnerability. Eerily compelling, these screen tests testify to the inexhaustible fascination with the human persona that fueled Warhol's portrait investigations in photography, painting, and film. As slow-motion paintings and still films, Warhol's screen tests foreshadow recent developments in film and video, a testimony to his enormous impact on art since the 1960s.

The Philadelphia Museum of Art is among the largest museums in the United States, with a collection of more than 227,000 works of art and more than 200 galleries presenting painting, sculpture, works on paper, photography, decorative arts, textiles, and architectural settings from Asia, Europe, Latin America, and the United States. Its facilities include its landmark Main Building on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, the Perelman Building, located nearby on Pennsylvania Avenue, the Rodin Museum on the 2200 block of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, and two 18th-century houses in Fairmount Park, Mount Pleasant and Cedar Grove. The Museum offers a wide variety of activities for public audiences, including special exhibitions, programs for children and families, lectures, concerts and films.

For additional information, contact the Communications Department of the Philadelphia Museum of Art phone at 215-684-7860, by fax at 215-235-0050, or by e-mail at pressroom@philamuseum.org. The Philadelphia Museum of Art is located on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway at 26th Street. For general information, call (215) 763-8100.

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