Billy Name, Who Glazed Warhol’s Factory in Silver, Dies at 76
Andy Warhol’s New York loft on East 47th Street in Midtown Manhattan [was] called the Silver Factory because every surface was embellished with aluminum foil and silver paint… .
But the Silver Factory wouldn’t have been the hallowed salon it was had Warhol, in 1959, not run into a handsome, brooding waiter named William Linich Jr. …
When Warhol later went to get a haircut at Mr. Linich’s apartment, he was so wowed by its obsessive reflective décor (“I even painted the silverware silver,” Mr. Linich once recalled) that he invited Mr. Linich uptown to decorate the loft the same way…
No mention of which brand of aluminum foil Billy Name used, although plenty of others (including Name, himself) have suggested that it was a Reynolds Wrapped Factory.
Gregory Barker: You were responsible for the “Silverizing” of the Factory, could you talk me through your original idea behind it?
Billy Name: The idea was to create an installation composed of silver foil and silver paint. It was a maximal event, maximal meaning the opposite of minimal, it was a demonstration of covering all surfaces with a single coat of silver. I remember Reynolds Wrap heard about what I was doing and they sent a case of silver foil to the Factory. Surrounded in that space by all the silver, it felt like you were inside of a gem.
from Gregory Barker’s interview with Billy Name on HotShoe
Reynolds Aluminum: Patron of the (Pop) Arts?
If Reynolds Wrap actually did sponsor the Factory’s silver foiling project in this way, it would not be the last time. Alcoa (current owner of the Reynolds Wrap brand), The Alcoa Foundation & the Andy Warhol Foundation partnered in 2005 to create an exhibit of Warhol’s work in Russia. The company has also reportedly sponsored an artist in Florida who foiled the outside of his rental home last year.
But did Name really remember correctly that it was Reynolds Wrap who sent the case of aluminum foil?
Name was a photographer, and I’ve been looking for evidence of Reynolds Wrap boxes in his pictures of the Factory from those days. I have not found any photos showing Reynolds Wrap brand aluminum foil boxes.
If it was Reynolds Wrap that he’d been using at that time, the boxes would have had the package design below.
Some who were there just call it “tin foil” or “aluminum foil” with no mention of the brand. Indeed, as a raw material on the walls, there’s no indication what brand foil it might be.
Reynolds Wrapped Factory: fact or figure-of-speech?
The other possibility, of course, is that folks were just using “Reynolds Wrap” as a genericized term for aluminum foil. It wasn’t a “Reynolds Wrapped Factory,” perhaps, so much as an “aluminum foil-wrapped Factory.”
The simple way would have been to paint the walls silver with an industrial sprayer. But Billy opted for the more painstaking job of attaching long rolls of Reynolds aluminum wrap to walls and columns, using glue and an industrial staple gun; he climbed high ladders and covered hot-water pipes, covering even the windows. Billy was drawn not only to aluminum foil’s shiny reflectivity but also to its used, lived-in-look surface. Even when the shinier Mylar became cheaply available. Billy preferred the crumpled aesthetic.
Steven Watson, Factory Made: Warhol and the Sixties
More Reynolds-Wrapped-Factory research, but an unexpected foil brand emerges, after the fold.
The interior of the Factory – walls, ceiling, and floor – and everything in it, is painted silver or covered with a veneer of Reynolds Wrap – which produces a curiously timeless, abstract feeling. …
Cavalier: This is a very interesting looking place, although the Reynolds Wrap seems to be coming loose here. Is there any particular meaning behind everything being painted silver?
Andy Warhol: Well, you might say I have a fondness for silver, or even gold for that matter.
Cavalier: The gold seems to be well hidden.
from Sterling McIlhenny & Peter Ray’s interview with Andy Warhol
Cavalier Magazine, 1966
Andy Warhol: The Silver Obsession (Chapter 4)
… Painstakingly crafted by Factory regular Billy Linich, known as Billy Name, the Factory … was entirely covered in tinfoil and metallic paint in an effort to mimic the silver color of machinery. To cover the walls, Name used cheap Reynolds aluminum wrap, not coincidentally the most recognizable and accessible foil for the 1960s consumer. Using glue and an industrial staple gun, he obsessively covered even the metal pipes, spurred on by the effects of amphetamine…
Although the use of tinfoil produces a gritty, built-up texture, Name made sure to rewrap the crumbling walls every two weeks so the coated surface maintained a flat appearance.
Jenna C. Moss, 2007
The Color of Industry: Frank Stella, Donald Judd, and Andy Warhol
It makes sense that Warhol would naturally default to the leading consumer brand. In this case, however, the branding of the foil is a bit conceptual and there is no evidence that I’ve seen, proving it was Reynolds Wrap aluminum foil.
…there is another brand of aluminum foil that does appear in one of Billy Name’s 1964 photographs.
And the name of that brand was...
Wonderfoil started out as Cochran’s Pure Aluminum Wonderfoil in 1948.
Wonderfoil eventually became A&P’s aluminum foil brand. The clipping on the right is from a 1967 A&P newspaper ad. In other ads, they refer to it as “A&P’s own Wonderfoil.”
Setting aside Billy Name’s recollection of a foil donation from Reynolds Wrap, Warhol would be the one actually writing the checks for any aluminum foil purchased. And we know that Warhol was budget-conscious. So it makes sense that he might opt for a cheaper store brand aluminum foil for the wrapping (and periodic re-wrapping) of the Factory’s walls and pipes, etc.
Not only that, there was an A&P nearby, where he was known to shop — where his earliest Campbell’s Soup can “subjects” were first purchased.
Brand Name Confusion?
So, if the Billy Name and other denizens of the Factory used Reynolds Wrap’s name in error, they were not alone. Fashion designer Rudi Gernreich made a similar mistake in 1967 when he introduced his line of clear vinyl-paneled dresses.
“A woman today can be anything she wants to be a Gainsborough or a Reynolds or a Reynolds Wrap.”
(Most agree that “Saran Wrap” was the brand he was thinking of, although his joke conflating the artists’ names would not have worked.)
Interestingly, the aluminum foil from Warhol’s “Factory” has become an artifact in its own right.
… in June the Pompidou Center in Paris wrapped up a show titled “The Pop Years,” which featured the actual tinfoil that once lined the Factory, Warhol’s Manhattan studio.
Tyler Maroney, Much More Than Fifteen Minutes
Art News, 2002
Tin Foil Toilet Paper
Curtis: I was staying at the YMCA, which was across from where the old Factory was.
Smith: This is the one with the tin foil?
Curtis: Yes. There are photographs of that. In the toilet, all covered with tin foil. Nobody in their right mind would go to the bathroom there. You know? Because there was no paper there except the foil. Oh, it was wonderful and very scary.
Patrick S. Smith interviews Jackie Curtis in his book, Andy Warhol’s Art and Film