Andy Warhol: Sunset

Aug 19, 2016 – Jan 8, 2017
Main Building

A rare, unfinished film by Andy Warhol, Sunset is a meditation on the temporality of an everyday phenomenon. Warhol began making the film in 1964 when the Menil Collection founders John and Dominique de Menil commissioned the artist to create a new film, one with spiritual significance. Warhol shot sunsets in San Francisco, East Hampton, and New York City, but never completed the project, stating, “I filmed so many sunsets for that project, but I never got one that satisfied me.”

The film originated during a productive period of filmmaking for the artist; he made more than 600 films in five years. In Sunset and in some of his better-known films such as Empire, 1964, or Sleep, 1963, Warhol explored the moving image through real-time footage and static shots.

Here, a sunset over the Pacific Ocean in California unfolds as a slow and colorful shift of atmospheric light at dusk. As the sun sinks to the horizon, the deep voice of the singer Nico, who was then working with the Velvet Underground, is heard reading poetry off-screen.

Sunset was restored and re-released in 2000 as part of The Andy Warhol Film Project, begun in the 1980s to research, catalogue, and preserve the artist’s massive—and for a time, relatively unknown—moving-image body of work. The Andy Warhol Film Project is a collaborative archival research project of Whitney Museum and The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). Warhol himself gave his approval to the project and handed over his original films to MoMA for cataloguing and storage in 1984. This presentation of Sunset is curated by Michelle White.

Daily screening of the 16mm film held Wednesday through Sunday at 6 p.m.

In the spirit of Warhol’s meditative film, share your best photos of the transitioning sky using #menilsunset on your favorite social media platform.

This exhibition is generously supported by Pelican Builders; Janet and Paul Hobby; Anne and David Kirkland; Harry and Karen Pinson; Susanne and William E. Pritchard III; Mark Wawro and Melanie Gray; Michael Zilkha; and the City of Houston.

After Sunset Sessions

A series of short presentations follow the screening of Andy Warhol’s Sunset on select dates. The film starts at 6 p.m. and the programs start immediately afterward.

Seating is limited and available on a first come, first served basis

Wednesday, August 31
DJ Merseyside offers up a music set inspired by and with tracks from The Velvet Underground & Nico album, co-produced by Warhol in 1967.

Wednesday, September 28
Filmmaker and curator Peter Lucas presents a film from the Menil archives.

Wednesday, October 5
Filmmaker and curator Peter Lucas presents a film from the Menil archives.

Wednesday, October 26
Alejandro Chaoul-Reich, writer, teacher, and director of education for the Integrative Medicine Program at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, leads a meditation.

Wednesday, November 2 Haley Berkman, curatorial assistant, talks about John and Dominique de Menils’ relationship with Warhol and the commission of Sunset.

Wednesday, November 9
Joseph Campana, associate professor of English literature at Rice University, poet, and arts writer, conducts a poetry reading.

Wednesday, November 30 Joseph Newland leads a meditation on light inspired by sunset/sunrise that incorporates modern physics and a traditional Illuminationist Sufi practice.

Wednesday, December 14
Dr. Tish Stringer, lecturer and film program manager at Rice University, talks about film.