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Andy Warhol’s lost digital art found on floppy disks

Andy Warhol Museum of the Modern Art
Andy Warhol Museum of the Modern Art
Photo courtesy of Public Domain/Wikipedia Commons, used with permission.

Andy Warhol’s digital art has been recovered from floppy disks, and it is being shared with the world more than 30 years after it was originally created. Wired reports on Monday that the lost art was made in the 1980s and was forgotten after being stored on the disks. The discovery includes 28 original pieces from the artist who was once videotaped using an old Amiga computer.

The Andy Warhol Museum was storing the floppy disks, but it did not know they were filled with the artist’s digital art for many years. Unfortunately, the disks were in bad shape, and it was risky to open them to check for Warhol’s artwork. However, Cory Arcangel is being credited with finding the disks at the museum and helping others discover the lost art by questioning a YouTube video of the artist using an ancient computer.

The Smithsonian indicates that 23 of the pieces have been restored and rescued from the disks. The artist used primitive software programs on the Amiga to create his digital masterpieces. However, their discovery raises questions about the best way to present the lost art to the public. Some art enthusiasts have recommended that the digital pieces should be printed and professionally framed to showcase them. Others want to keep them in a digital format and use television screens to present them.

NBC News reports that some of the art has his signature while other pieces do not have it. The work shows Warhol’s usual range with the popular Campbell's soup can in one of the drawings. Another piece focuses on Venus, but the artist has given her a third eye. Some art critics are calling the lost digital art primitive, yet Warhol was limited by the software available in 1985.

The restoration process was lengthy and required a careful extraction of the images without corrupting the floppy disks. The Andy Warhol Museum has issued a statement that reveals it took three years to accomplish the preservation and required the help of a computer club.