Kiss (1963) is an experimental film directed by Andy Warhol, which runs 50 minutes and features 12 couples kissing for 3½ minutes each. Out of the 12 kissing couples several are man and woman, woman and woman, man and man, actor Gerard Malanga kisses both men and women, and one is a black man (Rufus Collins). In 1963 this was a daring statement, the polymorphous evaporation of sexual (and racial) identity through the serial fulfilment of romantic dreams. Kiss is probably the artist’s earliest film work that was screened in public. Cinema censors would not allow lips to touch and linger for more than three seconds in Hollywood films, so with Kiss Warhol provides a statement against the conventions of that period. The concept was likely also influenced by a 1929 Greta Garbo film called The Kiss which apparently was screened at Amos Vogel’s influential Cinema 16 experimental film society right around the time that Warhol bought his first Bolex film camera.
The Kiss films were started in 1963 and shown in installments during weekly underground film screenings organized by artist Jonas Mekas. Eventually a 55-minute long version of Kiss was assembled. Among the participants were musician Ed Sanders of The Fugs, actor Rufus Collins from the Living Theatre, sculptor Marisol, artist Robert Indiana, as well as several of the outcasts and doomed beauties who would come to comprise the Factory’s “superstars.” The woman kissing several men is Naomi Levine, who Andy Warhol referred to as “my first female superstar”.
16mm film transferred to digital file (DVD)
Black and white, silent, 54 minutes at 16 frames per second
Collection of The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh
Contribution The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc.
©2014 The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, PA, a museum of Carnegie Institute. All rights reserved.