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'Billy Name: The Silver Age': the legendary photographer discusses his best shots

Andy Warhol's Factory photographer talks about his best-loved images

By Martin Coomer

One of the last surviving members of New York’s pop-art scene, Billy Name is also one of its pioneers. It was Name (born William Linich in Poughkeepsie, New York, in 1940) who in 1964 ‘silverised’ Andy Warhol’s Factory on East 47th Street by covering every inch with either silver foil or spray paint. Name lived there until 1970, becoming resident photographer, and his intimate black-and-white pictures capture history in the making. The man who shot Warhol hundreds of times tells us about some of his best-loved images.

‘Billy Name: The Silver Age’ is at Serena Morton II, 345 Ladbroke Grove, W10 6HA.
Sep 30 to Oct 23.

© Billy Name/Reel Art Press

‘Andy Warhol with Brillo Box and Ruby the Cat’, 1964

‘When I moved into the Factory at the beginning of 1964, I brought two cats with me. There was a black cat called Lacy, and the cat in this photo was Ruby: she was orange and white. Andy came in one morning and found the cats had walked all over his wet paintings and made little paw prints everywhere. He insisted that the cats had to go. I liked the Brillo boxes very much and helped Andy make them by painting the base coats on all the boxes. Andy and Gerard [Malanga] would then silkscreen the words and images on them. It was pretty quick work and they were just beautiful.’

© Billy Name/Reel Art Press

‘Silver Coke Bottles Drying on the Factory Floor’, 1964

‘We had five cases of those little glass Coca-Cola bottles stacked up at the Factory. One day I was looking at them and felt inspired to lay them out on the floor and spray-paint them silver. It was a striking display. Andy looked at them and said: “Oh gee, Billy, what can we do with them?”. I said we should fill them with perfume, put caps on them and call it “You’re In by Andy Warhol.”’

© Billy Name/Reel Art Press

'Edie Sedgwick Screen Test', 1965

‘I love this photo of Edie, the way her eyes and lips radiate, she’s like a pixie here. Edie and I became close and we used to spend a lot of time just sitting around smoking cigarettes, talking about life and the universe. She was exquisite.’

© Billy Name/Reel Art Press

‘Nico, Chelsea Girl’, 1967

‘Nico always had this petulant look about her. I like this photo because the features of her face are almost disappearing. I didn’t take this photo for any particular reason – she was just around a lot at the time and was so photogenic. She had a haughty way about her, but it was authentic because she was a brilliant intellectual and could tell when someone was faking a mode. She could almost read your mind. Paul Morrissey designed her “Chelsea Girl” album cover and it was nice of him to use this photo.’

© Billy Name/Reel Art Press

‘The Velvet Underground’, 1967

‘This shot of The Velvet Underground was taken at the Factory. They all stood in front of a screen and we projected the dots of light on them. The shot was probably for a magazine article. I really liked the group. Lou [Reed] and I became especially close. From the moment we first met we bonded, it felt like we had known each other from childhood. He would often meet me at the Factory after everyone else had left and we would hang out in after-hours bars in the Village all night.’

© Billy Name/Reel Art Press

‘My Hustler’, 1967

‘I like this photo of Andy walking under the cinema marquee with his airline bag, accompanied by Rodney Kitzmiller. I deliberately fell back to get this particular shot when Andy was right under the marquee, then the sailor walked into frame and it became a perfect moment to capture.’


Billy Name photographed at home in upstate New York, August 2015

Polaroid by Dagon James

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