Before his death in 1987, pop artist and provocateur Andy Warhol boxed up the ephemera of his life in 612 cardboard boxes as an Art project, and now the last of them has been opened. What souvenirs did the man who once said ‘one day everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes’ keep? The usual, the unexpected and the bizarre. There are sketches and silver wigs, toenails and used condoms, and a mummified foot.
Warhol began his Time Capsule project in 1974, and it wasn’t even his idea: while boxing away for a studio relocation, Warhol’s assistants suggested he should view packing up as an artwork instead of a chore. Is boxing up used postage stamps and dead bugs Art? “It was a continuous, 3D diary,” says chief archivist Matt Wrbican, while art historian Tim Marlow says they are both “post Duchampian” but “also about death.” Indeed, it seems like the time capsules were perfectly Warholian: a comment on the hagiography of dead celebrities. “With Andy, the joke’s on us. But we’re complicit.”