Excerpted from Rachel Kushner’s art portfolio The Flamethrowers, now available in full online.
Andy Warhol, Screen Test: Virginia Tusi, 1965, still from a silent black-and-white film in 16mm, 4 minutes at 16 frames per second.
Who is she? No one seems to know. “A young woman identified only as Virginia Tusi,” according to the catalogue raisonné. She was included in Warhol’s Thirteen Most Beautiful Women along with Susanne De Maria and Julie Judd—the exceptionally pretty wives of Walter De Maria and Donald Judd. Warhol’s two favorite kinds of people were beautiful people and the American upper classes. When those were combined into one person, such as Edie Sedgwick, bliss. One of the more striking men that Warhol filmed in 1965 was in the audience when I saw a program of Screen Tests last year. This man, a beard now tumbling down his chin, big belly protruding from his open blazer, shared anecdotes. “Warhol wanted me to flex my jaw,” he said. And, “Edie was a real bitch.” It might be better if Virginia Tusi just keeps beaming resplendently from her Screen Test, a mystery of mute loveliness.
[Note: the portfolio contains some graphic images.]