Artist Finds Lost Warhols on Floppy Disks

YouTube video inspires new media artist to unearth doodles

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted Apr 24, 2014 12:06 PM CDT | Updated Apr 27, 2014 7:07 AM CDT

(Newser) – What would Andy Warhol do with a primitive approximation of MSPaint? Now we know. An old video uploaded to YouTube sent one new media artist on a quest that culminated in the discovery of a variety of previously unknown Andy Warhol works, The Verge reports. After seeing a 1985 video of Warhol artistically flood-filling a digital photo of Debbie Harry using a Commodore Amiga computer, Cory Arcangel asked the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh if he could take a look at the floppy disks it had in its archives. (Commodore had commissioned Warhol to make the digital art as a promo for its Amiga 1000.)

The Debbie Harry piece was already in the museum's collection, but the contents of the disks were a mystery—the files were in an archaic, unreadable format. But with the help of the Carnegie Mellon University Computer Club, Arcangel and his museum collaborators managed to extract them, in what the BBC reports was a three-year project. What they found were a series of doodles, photos, and other experiments (the BBC notes there were 18 digital images, two-thirds of them signed), including a squiggly Campbell's soup can drawing, and a pre-rendered version of Botticelli's "The Birth of Venus" with an extra eye copied onto it. The museum announced the finds Thursday. (Another fascinating recent art world story: how a Queens man managed to forge modern masterpieces that tricked experts for years.)

A digital painting made by Andy Warhol is seen in this YouTube screenshot.
A digital painting made by Andy Warhol is seen in this YouTube screenshot.   (YouTube)
Andy Warhol's Campbell's, 1985
Andy Warhol's "Campbell's," 1985   (The Andy Warhol Museum)
Andy Warhol's Venus, 1985, created from a pre-rendered image of Botticelli's Birth of Venus.
Andy Warhol's "Venus," 1985, created from a pre-rendered image of Botticelli's "Birth of Venus."   (The Andy Warhol Museum)
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Andy Warhol demonstrates the Commodore Amiga's artistic potential.   (YouTube)

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