Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Factory Made: Warhol and the Sixties by Steven Watson (2003)

UPDATED 7/5/07

I am a HUGE fan of Andy Warhol--his paintings, the numerous documentaries and biographies about him--and especially his films. It is common knowledge that Warhol was born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania--all the way on the other side of the state from Scranton. But were you aware that even Andy Warhol has a posthumous connection to Scranton? Let me explain.

In 2003, Steven Watson wrote the definite portrait of the Warhol Silver Factory years titled Factory Made; Warhol and the Sixties. In my own humble opinion, I think this is perhaps the best book on Warhol ever written. Not only does it paint a thorough and vivid picture of Warhol's years of painting and filmmaking in the 1960s (most would agree the sixties was his most productive period as an artist), but it also gives chronological and detailed accounts and biographies of the eccentric group of actors and artists that played roles in his famous Silver Factory in New York City during that time. Everyone from Warhol himself to his superstars (including Nico, Edie Sedgwick, Mary Woronov and Ultra Violet) to his friends and assistants (Brigid Berlin and Gerard Malanga) are profiled--even his near-assassin Valerie Solanis is included.

On the final page of Factory Made (page 436, to be exact), the final paragraph of the book discusses the preservation and continued revivals of Warhol's films, (which include The Chelsea Girls, Empire and Sleep), and this is where Scranton is mentioned:

"In the meantime, the films of the Factory era are resting safely in the Museum of Modern Art's film vault in a rural setting outside Scranton, Pennsylvania. They reside at an eternal 38 degrees, and if they are to be seen, they must first spend a few days in the warming-up room. Art and artifact, they record the Sixties like nothing else."

Now before you even ask, I must say that neither I nor my colleagues have any idea when the Museum of Modern Art's film vault is, in the vacinity of Scranton. It's a complete mystery to us. But if anyone can provide us with that final piece of the puzzle, please email me at

According to the official website for the book, Factory Made is in the process of being adapted into a feature length documentary film.

Unfortunately, we do not include Factory Made in our library holdings, but portions of the book (including chapters excluded from the final edition) can be viewed online by clicking here. It's an excellent book and I HIGHLY recommend it. In addition, an excellent 2006 film covering that time period titled Factory Girl (starring Sienna Miller as Edie Sedgwick and Guy Pearce as Andy Warhol) will be released on DVD July 17th. Albright Memorial Library will have a copy of Factory Girl in its circulating DVD collection. You can place a hold on the DVD at

UPDATE 7/5/07 "Ask and you shall receive" is my new motto. Not one, but TWO people helped me to answer the question "Where near Scranton is the MOMA film vault?" Well, the answer is Hamlin, PA-approximately 18 miles outside of Scranton in Wayne County.

The name of MOMA's film vault in Hamlin is The Celeste Bartos Film Preservation Center and it opened June 10, 1996. According to the web site, the $11.2 million film storage facility consists of two buildings on a 38-acre estate in Hamlin and houses over 14,000 of MOMA's rare film collection from 1894 to the present at a constant 38 degrees for preservation.

I want to give a big thanks to two awesome people for providing me with this last piece of the Warhol/Scranton puzzle--Brian Fulton, Library Manager at the Scranton Times and artist "The Other Michael" (whose website,, is absolutely incredible--the umbrella hats ROCK).

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