Andy Warhol’s film Empire screens for a month at its namesake New York venue for anniversary celebration

The 50th anniversary of Andy Warhol’s groundbreaking film Empire will be marked by a month-long special exhibition at the very building that is the namesake and sole image of the epic work. Throughout July, Empire will be continuously shown in the Fifth Avenue lobby of New York City’s Empire State Building. The exhibition also features images of Warhol’s art and details of his life and filmmaking.

Additionally, on the evening of Friday, July 25th, the Empire State Building will be illuminated with thousands of white lights sparkling in honour of the film’s anniversary. It was on that date in 1964 when Warhol trained his camera on the Empire State Building for six and a half hours, declaring, “The Empire State Building is a star!”

From the dusky hour of 8:00pm into the darkness of 2:30am, Warhol captured the changing lights of the towering structure and the sky above. When Warhol premiered the film, unedited, the following March, he projected it in slow motion, bringing its length to over eight hours.

“Andy Warhol is arguably the most famous American artist of the 20th century and Empire was his most famous film,” said Geralyn Huxley, Curator of Film and Video at The Andy Warhol Museum and project leader for the Empire State Building exhibition. “It is fitting that he and his work be honoured by the most famous of American buildings.”

The exhibition will be displayed in four windows of building’s famed Art Deco lobby from July 1-July 31, 2014. Admission to the lobby is free.

Empire is a classic example of Warhol’s early work in film, which began in 1963. He ignored Hollywood conventions by making a film that contained a single image for an extended period of time. Warhol said, “I never liked the idea of picking out certain scenes and pieces of time and putting them together, because…it’s not like life… What I liked was chunks of time all together, every real moment.”

Visible at times from up to 80 miles away, the Empire State Building is one of the most recognized and photographed landmarks on the planet. Warhol shot Empire from across Manhattan, from the 41st floor of the Time-Life Building.

The Empire State Building enhanced its present-day star quality in November 2012 by replacing its tower flood lights with a state-of-the-art LED lighting system as part of its Empire State ReBuilding program. The new tower lights are capable of producing up to 16 million colour variations and an unlimited number of patterns and effects. Although the tower lighting regularly honours milestone events and charitable causes, singling out an individual – such as with the July 25th lighting evoking Warhol’s silver motifs.

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