One of the little-known treasures about artist Andy Warhol is that he was fascinated with using computers to create art. In the 1980s, competition in the personal computers industry was hot. So imagine having an A-list artist like Andy Warhol be the spokesperson for your company. This was the case for the company Commodore in 1985. Unlike Apple at this time, Commodore had just released one of the most state-of-the-art personal computers of the year: the Amiga 1000. The Amiga could display up to 4,096 colors at once which had most competitors beat due to their grayscale displays.
For the big release of the Amiga 1000, Commodore held a star-studded event at the Lincoln Center in New York City. At the event, Warhol gave a live demonstration on the capabilities of the color display by using the program ProPaint to create a digital painting of the lead singer of Blondie, Debbie Harry in front of an audience.
Later, in a rare interview with the magazine Amiga World, Warhol expressed his genuine enthusiasm for the computer. He said, “I love the machine. I’ll move it over to my place, my own studio.”
So, whatever did happen to the digital painting of the famous artist? Years later, the artist Cory Arcangel tried to answer that question and succeeded. He discovered a repository of 40 floppy disks in the Andy Warhol Museum’s Archives containing the long-forgotten digital works of Warhol. Except there was one problem, who uses floppy disks anymore?
After some work by the Carnegie Mellon University Computer Club, museum experts, and artists around 28 files were able to be extracted. One of which is a digital self-portrait with the artist’s signature.
Who would’ve guessed that the artist famous for his timeless pop artworks would’ve been a computer spokesperson? However, it’s the mentality Warhol had of an excitement for using computers as tools for making art that carried over into further graphics program innovations that have become the creative programs many artists use today.