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Uncovering Andy Warhol’s Time Capsules

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The Origin of the Cardboard Boxes
Already a great collector of sorts, in 1974 Andy Warhol had to find a way to transport all his bric-a-brac from his Union Square address to a new location, 560 Broadway – a large, 27 room home in Manhattan. His solution was the ever simple cardboard box, and so began the Andy Warhol time capsules.

From that point on, anything that passed through Andy’s fingers ended up in a cardboard box, which was always somewhere nearby. For the next 30 years, either he, or one of his assistants would label the box, seal it, store it, and replace it with a new one. It was only after his death that the rest of the world was given the opportunity to peek inside.

Peek, but don’t Fall in
The Andy Warhol museum, located in Pittsburgh, houses the more than 600 capsules. In each box are approximately 200 objects, and Matt Wrbican is the archivist in charge of bringing some order to the mess. He must make sure that all the items are catalogued according to content and date. The record of Andy Warhol’s daily life is not a simple one. Common items comprise personal letters, pictures, financial documents and artwork, while some of the more bizarre items include an entire pizza and a mummified foot. Photo booth strips of different people are aplenty, as are death and murder related newspaper clippings. Through his artwork, his films and the Andy Warhol time capsules, the artist tried to capture time and space as often as he possibly could.

Uncovering the Man
Andy Warhol left a total of 612 time capsules for us to open after his demise. One would think that this would help us to delve into his psyche – to understand his inspirations and his motivations. It may have assisted us in looking into his day-to-day life, but have the contents of the boxes really allowed us to ‘know’ him better, or have they only confused us even more?

One thing we do know is that Andy Warhol was absolutely fascinated with the world around him and how it was changing. He was obsessed with consumerism and pop culture, which is clearly evident in his artwork. Warhol could be found trolling flea markets, auctions, and antique shops, incessantly searching for something of wonder. His regular collectibles included contemporary and folk art, furniture, art deco silver, cookie jars, and a whole lot more. Some say he even accumulated people, implying that they are as disposable as material goods. The estate sale that took place after his death was enormous, and the public proved their loyalty to the artist by paying exorbitant prices for his ‘stuff’.

By going through Warhol’s daily telephone messages and notes, we can begin to explore how they might be connected with the art he created at the same time. The Andy Warhol time capsules can be viewed as a type of encoded diary, one which requires a lot of time and effort to unlock - a key, of course, would be much too simple.


Article written by Jessica Corbett:
Jessica Corbett is an modern day artist and is the proud owner/author of the website Andy Warhol Posters 'n' Pop Art.


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