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In 1964, a New York waiter met a New York artist, moved in with him and was presented with a camera. “Take pictures,” the artist, Andy Warhol, told him. And for the next six years, Billy Name, a waiter no more, documented life at Warhol’s The Factory with greater access and intimacy than anyone else had managed. Consequently, the claim that Name's new book, The Silver Age, is the most revealing collection of photographs of the 20th century's most divisive artist is entirely convincing.

“Oh, Billy was the anchor, the unifying force, the maitre d', the bouncer of the place,” says Glenn O'Brien, a former member of Warhol's circle says. “He also ran the Factory, and he lived there - in a closet - which is why his pictures have that fly-on-the-wall quality.”

Born William Lynch in 1940, Name influenced the artist in unlikely ways. He had covered his previous apartment with aluminium foil as he couldn't afford wallpaper, but Warhol, who could afford wallpaper, loved the effect and requested he “silverise” the Factory too. The book features the shimmering results alongside many images of the artist at work (with his Brillo and Campbell Boxes), with his muses (Nico and Edie Sedgwick), and intimate portraits of friends, including Lou Reed.

“Andy said that nobody could capture the atmosphere quite like Billy's photographs,” Glenn O'Brien says. “I think that's true. They are beautifully controlled: the quality, the contrast, the grain - all a perfect evocation of that world at that time."

 

The Independent

07 May, 2015

Nick Duerden