"Fred [Hughes] got involved right away with both art and moviemaking - he arranged a commission for me from the de Menils to film a sunset for something to do with a bombed church in Texas that they were restoring. I filmed so many sunsets for that project, but I never got one that satisfied me." (POP217)
Dominique and John de Menil were "prominent French-born Houstonians with homes in Paris and New York and collectors of art on an international and epic scale. (Dominique was an heiress to the Schlumberger fortune; John was chairman of the board of Schlumberger Ltd, a multinational oil-field services company, and a trustee of The Museum of Modern Art in New York.)" (DB263)
Through Fred Hughes who had recently joined the Warhol camp, the de Menils commissioned Andy Warhol to film a sunset. Warhol shot several color reels of sunsets in East Hampton, San Francisco and New York City, but none of them were satisfactory. However, some of them were included in **** (Four Stars aka The Twenty Five Hour Movie). (DB264)
The sunset in Sunset was filmed in California (TM). While the sun sets (and then seemingly rises), we hear Nico's deep voice off screen reciting a poem. At a couple of points in the film a plane appears flying through the sunset. The whole effect is both beautiful and mesmerizing and is reminiscent of Andy Warhol's earlier works such as Empire where a static camera captured a self-contained event.
Warhol used the money left over from the de Menil commission to film Lonesome Cowboys. He also did a series of sunset screenprints in 1972.