Warhol’s two-screen, 12-reel extravaganza marks the height of his creative involvement in filmmaking. One of the last films completed before Valerie Solanas shot Warhol in 1967, Chelsea Girls is both a technical triumph and a showcase for Warhol’s Superstars. Starring Mary Woronov, Warhol’s experimental film masterpiece performs a series of anti-aesthetic gestures: each reel unfolds a mini-narrative bounded by the temporal limits of the film reel and challenged by the spatial distractions of double screen projection. The order and arrangement of Chelsea Girls was at first improvised (to an original score by Velvet Underground); a set sequence for the film only developed over the course of screenings. According to Warhol, “Chelsea Girls was the movie that made everyone sit up and notice what we were doing in films (and a lot of times that meant sit up, stand up, and walk out).”
Directed by Andy Warhol. 1966, USA. • 210 mins. • 16mm
Co-sponsored by and shown in conjunction with
the UC Irvine University Art Gallery and the
Orange County Museum of Art.