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, called the Silver Factory because every surface was embellished with aluminum foil and silver paint, was to the social life of postwar art what Gertrude Stein’s Rue de Fleurus apartment in Paris or the Royal Academy of Art’s drawing rooms in London were to previous eras.
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., a refugee from the middle-class straits of Poughkeepsie, N.Y., who had moved to the city and plunged into its ferment as the Beat years gave way to the counterculture.
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 — an act that came to symbolize an entire Pop worldview that Warhol would invent.
“Why he loved silver so much I don’t know,” Warhol wrote of the man who later rechristened himself Billy Name. “But it was great. It was the perfect time to think silver.” It was the future, he said, the space age, and also the past, the silver screen and old Hollywood. “Maybe more than anything,” he added, “silver was narcissism — mirrors were backed with silver.”
Billy Name, who became Warhol’s lover, muse and court photographer, leaving behind a monumental visual record of the 1960s art world in and around the Silver Factory, died in Poughkeepsie on Monday at 76. His agent and executor, Dagon James, said the cause was heart failure.