Andy Warhol

Business freshman Avni Kothari, right, watches a screening of "13 Most Beautiful...Songs for Andy Warhol's Screen Tests," showing in the Visual Arts Center on Thursday as a part of an ongoing lunchtime film series.

Photo Credit: Thomas Allison | Daily Texan Staff

A screening of “13 Most Beautiful... Songs for Andy Warhol’s Screen Tests” caused students to focus on minute details of behavior at the UT Visual Arts Center’s inaugural Lunch Break program held Thursday.

Visual Arts Center public relations intern Natalie Mathis said the Warhol screening was the first in a series of three events that will occur this semester during the lunch hour.

“We wanted this to be accessible to students and professors who can’t come back to campus during our evening events,” Mathis said.

More than 20 visitors came to the screening and enjoyed picnic-style eating while watching a montage of 13 screen tests made of some of the famous artist’s closest friends. The collection was compiled by the Warhol estate after the artist’s death. The selected screen tests are the only tests released widely to the public out of a huge collection.

“Warhol liked collecting things, whether it was cookie jars or gemstones,” Mathis said. “It was not limited to objects. These screen tests are just another collection of his.”

The 13 screen tests, which are essentially moving portraits of a variety of faces ranging from anonymous to the highly recognizable actor Dennis Hopper, are set to music in the film, an addition to the original footage.

“I found the soundtrack to be a very nice compliment to the film,” Mathis said. “The music helped carry you through what is essentially just a series of faces. The music I feel helps keep the viewer engaged. It was a nice addition to what was on its own a beautiful thing.”

Mathis said the tiniest details of human behavior were the most striking things she noticed during the film.

“They seemed to be self-conscious and hyper-aware of every single movement,” Mathis said. “He wasn’t reliant on camera angles or the background. It was just a very intimate portrait of the person.”

Art history lecturer Elizabeth Chiles said the intimacy of having to look intently at a live portrait and focusing on the small details of a person’s face can be a bit uncomfortable.

“It’s interesting,” Chiles said. “The first two or three [screen tests] I felt like I was looking at their inner struggles with themselves. It was really uncomfortable as compared to the other side where we’re looking at them and not into them.”
Business freshman Avni Kothari said she also found that watching the small movements of someone drinking a Coke, chewing on their fingernails, smoking a cigarette or just staring intently back at someone could be a bit uncomfortable but rewarding at the same time.

“It sometimes made you feel uncomfortable, but it became really personal,” Kothari said. “I liked how Andy Warhol used such minimalistic techniques that you focused on detail-oriented things.”

The next Lunch Break event will be sponsored in conjunction with the “Queer State(s)” exhibit at the Visual Arts Center and includes a talk about LGBT issues after a screening of the documentary film “Red without Blue” on Oct. 20.

Printed on Friday, September 23, 2011 as: "Lunch Break program debuts with Warhol."

Patrons of the Blanton Museum stand near a painting by Andy Warhol depicting Farrah Fawcett. UT is currently embroiled in a legal battle concerning a second similar painting.

Photo Credit: Andrew Edmonson | Daily Texan Staff

The UT System is suing actor Ryan O’Neal for the wrongful possession of Andy Warhol‘s 1980 portrait of late former UT student Farrah Fawcett, saying the actress bequeathed her collection of art to UT.

The UT System Board of Regents filed the suit Friday at the Central District Court of California in Los Angeles asking O’Neal to transfer the portrait to UT Austin, according to the lawsuit.

In the early 1980s, artist Andy Warhol made two portraits of actress Farrah Fawcett and, according to the suit, gave them to her as gifts.

The portraits remained in Fawcett’s possession until her death on June 25, 2009. In her will, she donated all artwork and objects of art in her possession to UT.

After her death, UT received one of the two portraits, but the other was missing. The University recently learned O’Neal had taken possession of the missing painting.

Fawcett did not include O’Neal in her will, and any other artwork he may have taken from Fawcett’s collection lawfully belongs to UT, according to the suit. The two celebrities were friends and on-and-off lovers.

UT Austin claims more than $1 million in damages as a result of O’Neal’s actions, and requests he either transfer the portrait or pay the equivalent monetary compensation to the University. A recent BBC article estimates the painting may be worth up to $30 million.

“The Warhol portrait is an irreplaceable piece of art for which legal damages could not fully compensate UT Austin if the portrait is lost or damaged during the pendency of this dispute,” according to the lawsuit.

Although UT sources declined to comment on how the University found out about the portrait, ABC News showed footage of a Warhol portrait of Fawcett in O’Neal’s house on his reality show that aired last month.

The BBC article quoted a statement by Arnold Robinson, O’Neal’s spokesman, saying the suit was ridiculous and O’Neal expects to be vindicated in court.

Furthermore, Robinson’s statement said Warhol gave the portrait to O’Neal, and he knew the artist before meeting Fawcett.

UT System Vice Chancellor and General Counsel Barry Burgdorf declined to give comment outside of what was in the lawsuit.

The suit did not mention how the University confirmed O’Neal had the portrait or how the amount in damages was determined.

The Warhol portrait UT does have is currently on display at the Blanton Museum of Art, said museum spokeswoman Kathleen Brady-Stimpert.

Brady-Stimpert said the piece arrived at the museum in 2010 and has been part of a portraiture exhibit since April and is on display through Sept. 4.

She said the portrait is notable not only because it belonged to Fawcett, but because it is the work of pop artist Warhol, who was considered one of the great contemporary artists of his time.

“[The portrait] is very special for us to have because the late Farrah Fawcett was an alum of the University,” Brady-Stimpert said. “So we’re delighted to add a work of this caliber to our collection.”

Printed on 07/14/2011 as: UT sues actor for possession of portrait

LOS ANGELES — The University of Texas system and Ryan O’Neal are sparring over ownership of an Andy Warhol portrait of the actor’s longtime companion, Farrah Fawcett.

The system’s board of regents sued O’Neal in federal court in Los Angeles on Friday, asking a judge to order the Oscar-nominated actor to turn over the painting. The portrait is one of two that Warhol made of the “Charlie’s Angels” star and the University claims the actress bequeathed it to their Austin, Texas campus.

O’Neal’s spokesman Arnold Robinson blasted the lawsuit in a statement, saying the University has known for more than a year that the actor has the painting.

“This is completely ridiculous lawsuit,” Robinson wrote.

“Ryan O’Neal’s friendship with Andy Warhol began 10 years prior to his meeting Farrah Fawcett,” Robinson wrote.

“When Ryan introduced Andy to Farrah, Mr. Warhol chose to complete two portraits of her, one for Ms. Fawcett and one for Mr. O’Neal. Mr. O’Neal looks forward to being completely vindicated in the courts.”

The University’s lawsuit claims O’Neal may be holding onto other pieces from Fawcett’s art collection that she wanted the University to have after her June 2009 death. Fawcett attended the University of Texas at Austin in the 1960s, according to the complaint.

“The enduring value and public interest in the Warhol portraits is a testament not only to Mr. Warhol’s talent and artistry, but also to Ms. Fawcett’s status as a cultural icon,” the lawsuit states.

Warhol created the portraits in the 1980s and they were only publicly displayed once, the lawsuit states.

The University of Texas wants O’Neal to purchase insurance for the painting and properly preserve it so that it can be turned over to the University if the lawsuit succeeds. It also seeks undetermined financial damages from O’Neal, but states the Fawcett portrait is priceless.