Billy Name

Sean O'Hagan “Billy Name obituary”


When I interviewed Name last year, he said: “I didn’t consider myself a photographer until much later when people started appreciating the work. I wasn’t influenced by any photographer and I hadn’t looked at any books or museum shows. I just took the camera when Andy handed it to me and said: ‘Here, Billy, you do the stills photography.’ I went to the store soon afterwards and got the manual for the camera.”*3


The two had first met in 1959 in Serendipity 3*4, a cafe in Manhattan staffed by gay men, where Billy Linich (as Name was then known) was working as a waiter. Trained as a set designer, Linich had begun hosting “hairdressing parties” in his loft, which he had decorated with silver foil instead of wallpaper. When Warhol turned up to one and saw the results, he asked Linich to do the same in his new art space on East 47th Street. Soon, they were lovers and Linich was overseeing the everyday running of the Factory. “I was the foreman and I made things operate. I took photographs and I kept my eye on Andy.” Linich happened on his Warholian pseudonym while filling out the first line of an official form and simply reversing the instruction “Name: Billy”.

When Warhol embraced film-making in 1963, it fell to Name to take over as in-house photographer, which he did with an instinctive flair for lighting and composition. As an insider at the Factory, he went about almost unnoticed with his camera, producing often intimate images that capture the bustle of creative activity, but also the peculiar ennui of the Factory. His portraits of the immaculately stylish, stick-thin socialite Sedgwick, the icily beautiful Nico and the young, black-leather-clad Lou Reed, as well as “superstars” such as Baby Jane Holzer, Viva, Darling and Ondine, have become iconic. He also photographed famous visitors, including Bob Dylan, who was sitting, bored and impenetrable, for a Warhol screen test. Printed in high contrast black and white – and silver – Name’s images evoke a time and place that have since become mythic in pop cultural terms.


Before he met Warhol, Name had embraced the New York avant garde scene of the early 1960s, having fled a middle-class upbringing in Poughkeepsie, upstate New York, for the bohemian environs of Greenwich Village. There, he met the composer La Monte Young*6, who employed him as “a human drone” for a performance which comprised “standing on stage holding a note with your voice for a very long time”. He also wrote concrete poetry and performed it as part of the Fluxus art group alongside John Cage*7 and Yoko Ono*8. “It was a looser, freer time,” he told me. “You’d just run into people on the corner and go to their loft.”
See also

Priscilla Frank “Billy Name, Photographer Who Archived Warhol’s Factory, Dies At 76”
Rebecca Bengal “He Shot Andy Warhol’s Factory: Billy Name, Photographer of Edie and the Velvets, Dies at 76”
“Billy Name, Warhol 'Factory' photographer – obituary”
“Billy Name“

*1:See also

*2:See eg.

*3:Sean O'Hagan “I shot Andy Warhol: photographer Billy Name on drugs and shootings at the Factory”


*5:See eg.

*6:See Seth Colter Walls “La Monte Young: 'I'm only interested in putting out masterpieces'”

*7: See also

*8: See also