The Factory

BY ANDREW BLOM // MARCH 5, 2012 //

In remembering the 1960s, people tend to visualize the protests of the Vietnam War, the Civil Rights movement, and the Beatles playing in black and white on the Ed Sullivan Show. Due in part to the overwhelming effect these events had on millions of people, the small happenings inside a New York City studio tend to be forgotten.

Andy Warhol, left, with author Tennessee Williams // WORLD-TELEGRAM PHOTO BY JAMES KAVALLINES

The studio belonged to Andy Warhol, the painter and filmmaker whose innovative, bizarre and controversial creations found a home there from 1962 to 1968. Andy and his fellow artists produced films, paintings and music that conveyed the raw emotions and the “anything can happen” approach of the ’60s. Nothing today is like this.

Film, paintings and music today are safe, secure and made to please everyone. At Curry College, the students who stand out are the ones who try to be different, who try to be original and push the envelope. I don’t think lots of envelopes are being pushed here, particularly in the campus artistic scene. Many might think that drawing a landscape is being creative and original, but no one will remember them for that type of work.

Edie Sedgwick, Ondine, Candy Darling and Paul Morrissey all became regulars of Warhol’s studio, and Warhol would make them famous, for a brief time. The studio was nicknamed “The Factory” because of the “assembly line”-like technique Warhol and others used to create. Throughout the ’60s, The Factory became a second home to artists, drag queens, junkies and celebrities, including singer Bob Dylan, and everyone had a hand in various movies created there. It’s often been said that The Factory’s house band was the Velvet Underground, which Warhol took under his wings for a brief period as their manager.

What these people created was revolutionary, even for the ’60s. They were the counterculture to the counterculture. One of Warhol’s films was called “Vinyl”, released in 1965 and the first adaptation of Anthony Burgess’s novel “A Clockwork Orange.”

The Factory closed in 1968 when Warhol moved locations shortly after a factory worker named Valerie shot him. But the legacy it created deserves to live on.

One day, Warhol found out that a friend of a friend had committed suicide by jumping out a window. Warhol reportedly asked, “Why didn’t he tell us? We could have gone down there and filmed it!”

Safe doesn’t stand out, and it’s rarely remembered.

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