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Andy Warhol, famous for being a leading figure in the American Pop Art movement of the late 50’s, created the most iconic image we have of a Campbell’s Soup can, along with images of Marilyn Monroe and Elvis Presley. Celebrity, and the obsession with celebrity, was Warhol’s main focus. How we consume and enjoy film and images, especially those with superstars, was something he experimented with for years, and nothing exemplifies this more than the new exhibit at TIFF Bell Lightbox in Toronto. Andy Warhol: Stars of the Silver Screen is a massive collection of Warhol’s celebrity works brought to Toronto by the Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh. With over 800 pieces in the collection, fans of both the artist and his subjects will be treated to some of the most beautiful celebrity photos available.


The exhibit, which launched October 30th, starts with his early scrapbook, initial evidence of his obsession with celebrity that was founded by his many trips to a local theatre during the 1930’s. A small clipping of an actor that may seem inconsequential at first is just the beginning of an explosive and immersive experience. From his own collection, there are dozens of original movie posters, and hundreds of photos featuring his most beloved stars, from Marilyn Monroe and Liz Taylor, to Judy Garland and James Dean. If you’ve ever wanted to see gorgeous photos of your favourite classic Hollywood stars, TIFF Bell Lightbox is the place for you to be right now.


Warhol wasn’t only focused on those who already had an estabslihred career though; his famous studio, The Factory, was a star making machine where models, actors and even The Velvet Underground would converge to partake in Warhol’s extensive exploration of art. He also filmed thousands of videos here, including his famed Screen Tests. TIFF has recreated the Silver Factory, painted silver walls and metallic surfaces immerse you as you experience a small part of what the Factory may have actually been like.


Along with this beautiful collection of photographs, paintings and collected works, TIFF also presents Nothing Special: Andy Warhol’s Star System, where they will screen over a dozen of Warhol’s drug-fuelled and campy films, in which he attempted to create his own celebrities with the likes of Edie Sedgwick, Viva and Mario Montez. Warhol’s films are challenging if you don’t know what you are getting into. Take THE NUDE RESTAURANT for example, where men clad in g-strings have lengthy conversations with a lone waitress about religion, and mostly nothing of too much consequence. Devoid of any traditional narrative or plot, this film is a rather fascinating insight into the artist’s imagination and ideas on film and art. CHELSEA GIRLS, co-directed by Paul Morrissey, was Warhol’s first commercially successful film and features many of his homegrown “superstars” (Nico, Ondine, Eric Emerson and Ingrid Superstar to name a few) and has a fantastic soundtrack by The Velvet Underground (whom both Warhol and Nico frequently collaborated with). Filmed in split-screen and showcasing the daily lives of the Chelsea Hotel’s residents, this film is an avant-garde piece of experimentation that may require a certain influence by audience members in order to sit through. If you’ve never seen it, spoiler alert: nothing happens. But it’s the stars and the filmmaking itself which intrigues.


The Warhol retrospective doesn’t only feature films by the artists himself, a separate program, Liz & Marilyn: Black and White in Colour, runs from November 7th to January 7th 2016 and features some of the best films by both Monroe and Taylor. If you’ve never seen WHO’S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF?, or CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF, or the brilliant and dark SUDDENLY, LAST SUMMER then this is a great chance for classic film fans to discover, or rediscover these amazing films, and see why Warhol himself was so obsessed with these two iconic figures.


Andy Warhol: Stars of the Silver Screen and Nothing Special: Andy Warhol’s Star System run from October 30th through January 24th, 2016. For more information, please visit

Don’t forget to film your own screen test on your way out, too!

(All photographs by Nick Watson.)

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