I have spent many days in the museum’s archive, going page by page through the anatomized “Time Capsules,” and I have thereby unearthed countless surprising and revelatory facts about Warhol’s process, his aesthetic development, and the cultural movement that surrounded him and was partly his brainchild. In the Time Capsules I have discovered an “idea notebook” of Warhol’s, in his own hand, detailing plans for conceptual artworks that never reached fruition. I have discovered personal correspondence from several of his collaborators and associates, including Gerard Malanga, Viva, Troy Donahue, and Irving Blum. I have found rare photographs, and most importantly, I have discovered period pieces such as movie magazines, news magazines, physique magazines, hospital brochures, ticket stubs—ephemera that usually escapes the historian’s grasp, but that Warhol systematically saved. I believe that the contents of the Time Capsules are of interest not only to students of Warhol’s artwork, but to any scholar investigating the cultural history of the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. Indeed, these caches may turn out to be the most idiosyncratic repositories of American countercultural memory extant.Wayne Koestenbaum, writer and poet, “Point of View,” created for One Stop Warhol Shop, web project.
Andy Warhol’s Time Capsules represent the revenge of the historical subject. Imagine that you’re researching a biography, attempting to distill some essence of everyday life and times. And Warhol gives you 610 boxes of raw material to work from. It’s really overwhelming, an absurd amount, all unsorted. And yet, there are treasures to be found. A tiny, rare silkscreened canvas, one of the first Andy ever made as a contemporary artist, was unearthed in a box filled with unopened junk mail, magazines, Velvet Underground records, and a map to a party.Ingrid Schaffner, writer and independent curator, “Point of View,” created for One Stop Warhol Shop, web project.
Andy Warhol possessed both too much and too little. In his capacity to have done those things equally, he vitally characterizes how we engage with the profusion of objects made possible by life in industrial societies. On the one hand, by the time of his premature death his house had become impassible because of the accumulated bulk of his art, furniture, tchotchkes, and personal effects, and the idea of his having to maintain what he called Time Capsules would be perfectly reasonable to anyone in the possession of that most modern of inventions, the storage unit… His collections stagger us as we try to make sense of their meanings, and we might begin to think that he was simply a pack-rat unable to discard the mundane things he encountered in his daily life: he had too much. Simultaneously, as we begin to sort through the belongings that he gathered around him, we are tempted to wonder what he didn’t hold onto and whether we might discover the lost fragment (such as the precious discarded rosebud of Citizen Kane) through which one life might be satisfyingly explained. No collection is ever complete and thus begs for those things that it fails to include: the collection always wants more. In short, Warhol’s collections could never be large enough to explain his life and art. Matthew Tinkcom, “Andy Warhol and Collecting: Kitsch and the Inexpensive,” essay in Possession Obsession exhibition catalogue, The Andy Warhol Museum, 2002, p. 50.