Storied Photographer of Warhol’s Factory, Billy Name, Remembered through His Iconic Images
It was a fortuitous day in 1959 that Billy Name (né William Linich Jr.) met Andy Warhol—for both parties involved. Warhol went on to famously rename the Poughkeepsie, New York native, took him as a lover for a brief time, and posted him as in-house photographer at the Factory during its prime. Name, who died on Monday after years of battling recurring illnesses, in turn, fixed his lens on Warhol’s world of the ’60s, and thus preserved it through indelible images.
Name wore many hats at the Factory, from studio manager to electrician to decorator—he famously coated the walls of the original East 47th Street Factory with silver spray paint and aluminum foil. “I was the Factory foreman and I made things operate,” Name told The Guardian last year. “I took photographs and I kept my eye on Andy.”
In addition to intimate candids of Warhol—the artist captured bent over a tripod, speaking into a silvery payphone, or carrying a Brillo box—Name captured the mythic cast of characters that filled the artist’s legendarily rambunctious studio. His photographs are populated by the slim, stoic figures and faces of Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground, Bob Dylan, Edie Sedgwick, and other members of the choice clique dubbed “superstars,” who through Name’s lens appear somewhat superhuman.
Before his Warhol years, Name fled Poughkeepsie in his teens and landed in Greenwich Village. There, he worked for avant-garde composer La Monte Young, wrote poetry, and fell in with members of the Fluxus group. His primary pursuit involved stage lighting and design, and he worked nights as a waiter at the popular restaurant Serendipity 3, where he met Warhol.
After the Factory moved to a new location on Union Square in 1968, Name shed his role of de-facto documentarian. He spent his days in the darkroom as a recluse devoted to his negatives. He left the Factory in 1970 and began to perform his poetry in New Orleans and California, before his photographs began to earn him his own due fame.
Following his death, we remember Name through his achievement, these photographs, which immortalized a pivotal moment of cultural history.