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New Andy Warhol works discovered on floppy disks from 1985

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 Campbell's, 1985, by Andy Warhol (The Andy Warhol Museum)

He may have been an international art star, but it appears as though Andy Warhol had just as much fun playing around with digital paint programs as anyone else with access to a computer in 1985. 

 A set of 12 pixelated renderings produced by the iconic pop artist nearly 30 years ago on a Commodore Amiga computer were recently discovered on an old set of floppy disks stored in the archives collection of Pittsburgh's Andy Warhol Museum. 

Discovered and extracted by members of the Carnegie Mellon University Computer Club, the digital "experiments" were produced in 1985 when Warhol was commissioned by Commodore International to demonstrate the Amiga computer's graphic arts capabilities.

 Andy2, 1985, by Andy Warhol (The Andy Warhol Museum) 

Only one piece of art from the commission was ever publicized -- a portrait of singer Debbie Harry that has now been on display at the Andy Warhol Museum for decades. 

The remaining 11 images are said to have been "trapped" on floppy disks that the Warhol museum called "inaccessible due to their obsolete format since entering the collection in 1994."

"The images depict some of Warhol's best-known subjects," reads a press release from the Andy Warhol Museum. "Campbell's® soup cans, Botticelli's Venus, and self-portraiture, for example--articulated through uniquely digital processes such as pattern flood fills, palletized color, and copy-paste collage."

 Venus, 1985, by Andy Warhol (The Andy Warhol Museum) 
 
The Andy Warhol Museum explained that it was New York artist Cory Arcangel who set the wheels in motion for this image recovery project after watching a YouTube video of the Commodore Amiga's 1985 product launch event featuring Warhol. 

In the video, Warhol is seen rendering Debbie Harry using the computer's built-in paint program.




Arcangel reached out to "a multi-institutional team of new-media artists, computer experts, and museum professionals" to find out if any more images from the event could be restored from Amiga hardware in the Andy Warhol Museum's possession. 

Thanks to a grant from Carnegie Melon University professor Golan Levin, as well some very difficult work by the CMU computer club (which is described as "a student organization that had gained renown for its expertise in 'retrocomputing,'") 28 never-before-seen digital images in Warhol's style were recovered.

The team's journey was documented by the Hillman Photography Initiative and will be the subject of a new short film premiering May 10 called "Trapped: Andy Warhol's Amiga Experiments."

 Cory Arcangel (Centre), and CMU Computer Club members Michael Dille (Left), Keith A. Bare (Right) during the data recovery process. (Hillman Photography Initiative, Carnegie Museum of Art) 

Do you have any old digital or physical works at home that you've been meaning to restore or back up? Or have you found something interesting from the past in an old file before? Share your stories below.

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