Billy Name, the photographer who chronicled Warhol’s factory in the 1960s, died today. He was 76.
Song Chong of New York’s Milk Gallerywrote in an email,
“It is with tremendous sadness that we would like to announce that our dear friend and iconic artist Billy Name has begun his next great adventure. We mourn the loss of this important cultural figure and are thankful to have had the opportunity to work with him.”
Billy was born William Linich, and worked as a lighting designer in Manhattan before becoming enmeshed in Warhol’s circle. He transformed his East 5th Street apartment into a space age art installation, covering the walls in silver spray paint and aluminum foil and later did the same thing to Warhol’s studio, called The Factory.
Warhol and Name were supposedly involved in a romantic relationship for while and as the years passed he wore more hats. As Glenn O’Brien wrote in the intro to Billy Name: The Silver Age, Name soon became Warhol’s
“principal architect and decorator, his secretary, his archivist, his studio manager, security man, night watchman and bouncer, his casting director, his handyman, his photographer, his electrician, his magician. Billy was the one Andy counted on.”
Name captured Warhol’s world, candid, black-and-white shots of Edie Sedgwick, Nico, Lou Reed, Andy, Bob Dylan and anyone else who happened to come through the Factory door. Warhol wrote in his 1980 memoir POPism.
“The only things that ever came even close to conveying the look and feel of the Factory then, aside from the movies we shot there, were the still photographs Billy took.”
But Name himself never had plans to become a photographer. He told The Guardian in a 2015 interview,
“I just took the camera when Andy handed it to me and said, ‘Here, Billy, you do the stills photography.’ I remember I went to the store the next day and bought the manual for the camera. That’s how it began.”
Before long, Name moved into a closet in the Factory, fashioned himself a darkroom in the bathroom, and taught himself how to take a damn good photograph. Later in life, I think he got the recognition that he deserved as an artist in his own right.
My friend Catherine Johnson wrote the book Thank You Andy Warhol (Billy and I, among others are in the book) I had a solo show up in my gallery called, Good Luck With That, and Catherine and I organized held a book signing as well as an exhibit of artists in the book. Billy made a rare appearance at the opening and it was the only time I ever met him. He was one of the last links to Andy and that time, now that Taylor Meade and Holly Woodlawn are gone too. Hope you guys are all getting together now.
(Photos, Billy Name; via Huffington Post)