When Billy Name turned Warhol's Factory silver
Following the photographer's death yesterday, we look back at the time Name gave Andy's loft a foil makeover
Though many referred Andy Warhol’s workplace as the Factory right up until the end of his career, purists argue that only the original loft, on East 47th Street in Midtown Manhattan, should be described as such. After moving locations in 1968, Warhol himself rechristened his workplace the Office, though many chose to ignore this name change.
When distinguishing between Warhol’s original East 47th St loft and his later places, some describe this early pop atelier, where Warhol screen-printed and shot film and hung out, as the Silver Factory, thanks to its reflective aluminium foil wall coverings and spray paint.
This makeover was not Andy’s idea, but the work of the Warhol acolyte and photographer, Billy Name, who died yesterday. To commemorate his passing, we’ve chosen to reproduce this extract from fellow photographer Stephen Shore’s new book Warhol: Factory. Here’s Name’s take on the Silver Factory, from our new book, in his own words.
“Andy and I were hanging around together. I had an apartment on the Lower East Side, where I had haircutting salons. Hundreds of people would come, and I’d be cutting someone’s hair. Andy came. When he first started making films, he made films about what a person was famous for,” Billy, whose real name was William Linich Jr., recalled. “I was famous for giving haircuts, so he said, “Would you let me do a film of you doing haircuts?” [Haircut, 1963] I had covered my entire apartment in silver foil and painted everything silver. Andy said, “Well, I just got a new loft [the Factory]; would you do to it what you’ve done to your apartment?” I said, “Oh, sure, let’s do it.” So, I started doing it. I was a technician— I’d been a light designer for [Manhattan dance theatre] the Judson Church. I also worked for some off-Broadway theater and avant-garde dance companies. I installed all the lighting at the Factory, all the sound systems.”
In return for making over his loft, Warhol gave Name a new role within the Factory. “I was into light and sound before, but not photography,” Name said. “Andy had a still camera, but he had gotten the Bolex. He was going to start to do films, and he gave me the Pentax and said, “Here, Billy, you do the still photography; I’m going to start making films.” I became the in-house photographer and was sort of like the foreman. Eventually I moved in.”
To read more about Billy Name’s time with Warhol, and see many more beautiful Stephen Shore photographs from this period, order a copy of Warhol: Factory here.