Lost Warhol Artwork Found on Old Floppy Disks in Museum Archive

Image: Lost Warhol Artwork Found on Old Floppy Disks in Museum Archive Andy Warhol's artwork "Debbie Harry" at Sotheby's Auction House in London, 2011.

Thursday, 24 Apr 2014 06:06 PM

By Morgan Chilson

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Lost artwork made by pop artist Andy Warhol as he experimented on an Amiga computer in the '80s has been discovered on old floppy disks in the Andy Warhol Museum archive.

In a news release, the Pittsburgh, Pa., Warhol museum said it discovered the lost artwork after artist Cory Arcangel saw a clip on YouTube of Warhol demonstrating the artistic capabilities of the Commodore Amiga computer.

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Arcangel discussed the clip with a curator at the Carnegie Museum of Art. Curiosity aroused, they contacted the Carnegie Mellon University Computer Club, which is known for its work with archaic computers and technology. Eventually, they approached the Warhol Museum about searching through archived disks.

The artwork they discovered included a rendition of Warhol’s well-known Campbell’s soup can design.

Previously, the only surviving piece of artwork from Warhol’s work on the computer was a picture he created of Debbie Harry of the band Blondie.

The YouTube clip shows Warhol using ProPaint software to create the Harry portrait in a 1985 Commodore infomercial. It was his first computer portrait.

When asked what computers he had worked on before at the Commodore-sponsored event, Warhol drew laughter from the crowd when he replied, “Oh, I haven’t worked on anything. I waited for this one.”

Other artwork discovered on the floppy disks included doodling and experimentation on some of Warhol’s classic work, such as a Marilyn Monroe portrait and a banana, the museum release said.

“In the images, we see a mature artist who had spent about 50 years developing a specific hand-to-eye coordination now suddenly grappling with the bizarre new sensation of a mouse in his palm held several inches from the screen,” said Matt Wrbican, chief archivist at The Warhol, in the release. “No doubt he resisted the urge to physically touch the screen — it had to be enormously frustrating, but it also marked a huge transformation in our culture: the dawn of the era of affordable home computing. We can only wonder how he would explore and exploit the technologies that are so ubiquitous today.”

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