Still from the film "The Velvet Underground" (2021) showing black and white images of the band members
Part of the series CANCELED: MoMA Contenders 2021

CANCELED: The Velvet Underground, with Todd Haynes

  • This is a past program
This program has been canceled.

Screening followed by Q&A with Todd Haynes

More a dark magic conjuring than a nostalgia trip, Todd Haynes’s first documentary charts the all-too-brief rise and fall of one of rock ’n‘ roll’s most infamous bands, The Velvet Underground. Haynes places the band in the Downtown scene they emerged from, building a portrait of New York City’s 1960s experimental art world so electric and tangible that the VU’s existence seems both a miracle and an inevitability. Making heavy use of split screen and archival footage from the era—especially from close Velvet’s collaborator and mastermind Andy Warhol—Haynes summons the band's anarchic style of avant-garde pop in the film’s inventive form. What could be a clichéd story of a rock band (drugs and narcissism abound; it all falls spectacularly apart) is instead a deeply felt love letter to a fleeting time and place: Lou Reed, John Cale, Moe Tucker, and Sterling Morrison in a room together, making songs melodic and terrifying, for just two records. (Courtesy of Apple)

(2021, dir. Todd Haynes, color, 120 min.)

This film program is organized by Rajendra Roy, The Celeste Bartos Chief Curator of Film, and Sean Egan, Producer, Film Exhibitions and Special Projects, The Museum of Modern Art, New York.
The Hammer Museum's presentation is made possible by The Billy and Audrey L. Wilder Foundation.