Among the highlights of the collection of the MUSEUMMMKFÜR MODERNE KUST is a group of early drawings, paintings and sculptures by Andy Warhol. Within the context of these works, the museum is now showing an extensive selection of his Time Capsules. Objects guarded like treasures at The Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh for many years are now being made accessible to a wider public for the first time.
In the mid 1960s – quite probably occasioned by the frequent relocations of his Factory – Andy Warhol (Pittsburgh, 1928 – New York, 1987) began collecting all manner of things related to his everyday life. Ranging from the valuable drawing to the trivial object of practical use (or no use at all), they had one thing in common: The artist deemed them worth keeping. Having begun sporadically, the collecting activity became much more consistent in about 1974, filling 610 cardboard boxes by the end of the artist’s life. The content was often thematically grouped. When a Time Capsule was full, it was sealed, labeled and never again opened as long as Warhol lived.
"Tennessee Williams saves everything up in a trunk and then sends it out to a storage place. I started off myself with trunks and the odd pieces of furniture, but then I went around shopping for something better and now I just drop everything into the same-size brown cardboard boxes […] I really hate nostalgia, though, so deep down I hope they all get lost and I never have to look at them again. That’s another conflict. I want to throw things right out the window as they’re handed to me, but instead I say thank you and drop them into the box-of-the-month. But my other outlook is that I really do want to save things so they can be used again someday.”
—Andy Warhol: The Philosophy of Andy Warhol: From A to B and Back Again
Not until the artist’s death did The Andy Warhol Museum begin reopening the boxes and inventorying their contents. Of the one hundred Time Capsules subjected to this process to date, we have chosen a representative fifteen, affording substantial insight into Warhol’s life and artistic approach. In a manner downright obsessive, he documented his own existence, keeping not only important source material for his artworks but also the average flotsam such as bills, receipts, letters and notes jotted down during phone conversations. The exhibition thus provides access to the universe of a highly unique artist, filmmaker, publisher, music producer, businessman, collector and superstar. With regard to temporal origin, the objects range from children’s books of the 1930s to evidence of the Studio 54 club and party scene of the early ’80s.
Hardly another twentieth-century artist’s oeuvre so radically combines the "high" and the "low." The Time Capsules: an encyclopedia of individual passions, dominated by heterogeneity; a life retraced; the last Wunderkammern. They take us on a captivating culture-historical "journey to the past," in this case the capitalist American society of the 1960s-’80s. Their contents represent phenomena of mass and pop culture that are still essential elements of European society today.
The exhibition of the Time Capsules is not only a very unusual means of revealing the enormous spectrum of this major artist and his time; it also quite fundamentally questions the idea of the museum – specifically in its function as an archive.
The exhibition is a collaboration between The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, one of the four Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh and the MUSEUMMMKFÜR MODERNE KUNST, Frankfurt am Main.
The exhibition has been made possible above all by funding from the Federal Cultural Foundation and the Cultural Foundation of the State of Hesse.
We are also indebted to:
—3 x 8 Fonds, an initiative of 12 companies in Frankfurt plus the City of Frankfurt am Main and
—the 2003 MMK Tischgesellschaft
—Alfred Ritter GmbH & Co. KG, Harald Quandt Finanz GbR and US Airways