The Andy Warhol Museum has recovered a set of images, doodles, and photos created by the seminal pop artist on a Commodore Amiga home computer. The artworks, made by Warhol as part of a collaboration with Commodore Amiga, had been stranded on Amiga floppy disks for almost twenty years after the artist saved them in the mid-1980s. They were only discovered and rescued from their obsolete format thanks to the chance viewing of a YouTube clip.
The clip shows Warhol in 1985 at the Commodore Amiga's launch event. Warhol takes tentatively to the new hardware, perching a hand on the Amiga's mouse, before tweaking and manipulating an image of Blondie's Debbie Harry. That image is part of the collection housed at the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, but no other records of the artist's Amiga experimentation were kept.
The video of Warhol's forays into Amiga art piqued the interest of new media artist Cory Arcangel. In 2011, Arcangel contacted Tina Kukielski, a curator at the Carnegie Museum of Art. Together, they asked Matt Wrbican, the Warhol Museum's chief archivist, if they could search for files on the artist's disks. They were also connected to the Carnegie Mellon University Computer Club, a group, as the Warhol Museum notes, known for its collection of "obsolete computer hardware" and its "prize-winning retro-computing software development."
The images included doodles and experiments with Warhol's existing works
The images they found include doodles, photographs, and experiments with Warhol's existing artworks. One image is a crude recreation of his world-famous Campbell's soup can, its proportions skewed and its colors drawn in scratchy, MS Paint-esque lines. Another piece is a three-eyed doodle on a pre-rendered version of Botticelli's The Birth of Venus.
The video that inspired Arcangel and others to look for Warhol's forgotten Amiga experiments is a strange juxtaposition of old and new, an artist that defined the 1960s face-to-face with the new technology of the fast-moving 1980s. But as director of the Warhol Museum Eric Shiner explains, Warhol remained interested in new technology throughout his life. "Warhol saw no limits to his art practice. These computer generated images underscore his spirit of experimentation and his willingness to embrace new media."
All images published courtesy of The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visuals Arts, Inc., courtesy of The Andy Warhol Museum.