Thirty years ago, Pop-Art’s bad boy, Andy Warhol, consigned 300,000 of his everyday possessions to sealed cardboard boxes. Now, as the final boxes are opened for the first time, what do they tell us about the man who turned Campbell’s soup tins into art?
It’s a stuffy summer evening on Pittsburgh’s unfashionable North Shore. Cars jam the freeway, thanks to endless repairs to the crumbling flyovers. This famous old US industrial city is showing its age.
But in the shadow of the highway spaghetti lies another world – the ultra-cool converted warehouse that houses The Warhol. Seven floors devoted to Pittsburgh’s most illustrious artist-son, Andy Warhol, master of gaudily-coloured multiple Marilyn Monroes, Elvis Presleys and cans of soup.
Here, at The Warhol, splendour reigns – museum-perfection. Air-conditioned to a nicety, slate-grey floors, gleaming gift-shop, walls papered with multiple images of pink Warholian cows.
And in the luxuriously appointed studio theatre, a buzz of expectation.
The place is full to bursting with fans, acolytes and casual drop-ins. Everyone has paid their $10 (£6) for the privilege of seeing inside the humdrum cardboard box that sits, very alone, on a table on stage.
Because this, as a hand-scrawled label announces, is TC 528. It’s the last-but-one of 610 mystery parcels or Time Capsules that Andy Warhol sealed up over the course of the last 13 years of his life. They contain hundreds of thousands of objects, artefacts as the curators know them – a Work of Art, according to Warhol.