21st century education


Kiss shows various couples kissing in silence for three minutes each on 16-millimeter film. The short films were later collected on one or two reels, totalling almost an hour-long black-and-white film.

Portraits in Film

In the mid-60s Warhol made nearly 500 photographic portraits of people. Kiss, produced in the same time period as Sleep and Empire, was referred to as “moving pictures”. The people in the photographic portraits behaved differently. Some of them started acting and performing and some just sat still. The sense of time is lost here: it seems like the characters have been put in a continuous loop.

black and white photograph of an audience in a theater watching Andy Warhol's Kiss
Kiss, Andy Warhol

Punishingly Long?

Ken Johnson in his New York Times review of “Andy Warhol: Motion Pictures” which was on view at the Museum of Modern calls these works of Warhol “punishingly long” and “excruciatingly uneventful”. I agree that it is boring to watch the whole thing from the start till the end. But the main idea lies in there. That our lives are boring and uneventful most of the time. The artist did not initially expect people to sit and watch them in theaters for hours. Normally you would not be expected to look at a painting for eight hours straight, right? For the great majority of these films creations, he just walked away while the camera was still working so maybe he expected the same from the viewers.

Movies Show You What to Do

Andy Warhol once said that movies show you what to do, how to do it, when to do it, how to feel about it, and how to look how you feel about it. When I watch movies I associate the characters with myself. I cannot help it. It happens automatically. The feelings heroes feel on the screen resonates with me. But in the particular film I can not really relate to the action. Because I’ve never experienced it. Obviously the movie shows passionate interactions between characters. They must be lovers. I’ve never been kissed before like that. In that case, I guess, I’m watching it as a documentary. Something that has a learning string to it. Educates you in some way. And thoughts started to run in my head: Oh, that’s how it’s done. You press your lips against the other person’s lips and you kiss.

film frame from Andy Warhol's Kiss
Kiss, Andy Warhol

As you learn you can’t be satisfied with one source of knowledge. You crave for more. So I did. I’ve found out that there are millions of pictures depicting a kiss. Why artists want to share it? What do I get from their works? It’s something that they felt and they can share the experience. The feeling they’ve gotten out of it. The emotions they want us to pull up from ourselves when we see their vision. The Lovers of Rene Magritte tell me that love is passionately blind. As well as Jarek Puczel and Klimt’s masterpieces show how passion is free of borders. The same evidence I can see in Andy’s film as well. The posture of the people kissing is one more interesting observation subject. I can draw a parrallel between Carolus-Duran’s Le Baiser’s and the first couple in the film. The trust degree is so high there. And I can say that just by looking at them. One is ready to dive and the other is ready to receive the other person fully. No room for distrust.


This work is definitely relevant to the Time theme we explored in this course. Some may argue with me and say that it can be associated with Sex theme. But for me it’s more Time than Sex. Yeah, there are couples kissing. Yeah, maybe it did little arouse me to watch them doing so but the concept is the time we are given and what we are going to do with it. Time is like a space to occupy. I have not occupied mine with kisses but after what I have seen from the work of Warhol I am so looking forward to it.


  1. Pingback: Kiss - MOOC Magazine! | Free Education | Scoop...

  2. This is a really great write-up of a film most people do not want to sit through. It also conveys the essence of all of Andy’s “moving pictures” and of his Factory films in general. I hope you have enjoyed many moments of kissing since writing this!


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