25 August 2002 | silentgmusic
Warhol, A Major Religious Artist? Not here...
Recently, I saw a documentary on Bravo about Andy Warhol. After he died, there were vast amounts of works that were left behind. Some of these pieces focused on Christ and Christianity, and the more archivists delved, the more they found (such as the silkscreens of Jesus), many done in his "photocopy"-style (my quotes). The documentary pondered as to whether or not Warhol had indeed been a major religious artist (say, on the par with Michaelangello).
I was fascinated, so when I saw "Imitation of Christ" showing recently at a revival, I had to see it. I knew what to basically expect (improvisation, drug use, rambling non-narrative, all in true filmic Warhol fashion). What I didn't expect was to be led into the most endurance-testing 85 minutes possible. The thing is, not all 85 minutes are bad (unlike what some people may say). Sure, its pretty much about what you'd think (essentially, addicts living their lives, portrayed by amateur actors). But, if nothing else, this is an interesting time capsule, although about the only thing the film has to to do with religion is that Nico (in a great, non-acting part) reads from some text related to religion. Taylor Meade shows up for awhile, too, pretty much just being real flaky and ridiculous (I haven't seen him in other films, but is this really the same guy who was an underground film sensation?)
Okay. This film is not the Sisteen Chapel. Warhol was no Michaelangello...but, then again Michaelangello was no Warhol. Whether or not Warhol was a major religious artist is still debatable, but what I can say is that "Imitation of Christ" is too slow to recommend, while being interesting none the less. I had only seen a few of Warhol's shorter films (such as Factory footage he shot of Velvet Underground), but I can definitely see why Andy stopped making films. He probably was as bored as you can get watching some of "Imitation of Christ". It's provocative, but that's about it.
Ultimately, Warhol's "transgressors" deserved better.