Since I first heard about Andy Warhol's time capsules a few years ago I have been obsessed with the concept. Everyone knows Warhol was totally eccentric, and nobody blames him for it. Warhol was also an avid collector. Someone less successful may have been criticized for collecting junk/treasure the way he did, but not him. It was part of his persona.
In 1974 Andy Warhol moved from one studio to another. I've helped a couple of artists sort through their strange collections of dried up plants and animal parts, materials and supplies, works in progress and valuable art collections. It's no easy task. But dealing with aesthetically interesting or intellectually stimulating clutter reminds me that our stuff can paint a fascinating picture of our lives. (My interest in this phenomenon is the subject of a new blog! Check out www.real-spaces.com.)
Upon arriving at his new studio Warhol was inspired by all the boxes left over from the move. Until his death in 1987 he routinely filled the boxes with present clutter until he had accumulated 612 capsules in a warehouse (pictured below).
"Warhol selected items from the daily flood of correspondence, magazines, newspapers, gifts, photographs, business records, and material that passed through his hands to put in the open box by his desk. Once the box was full he sealed it with tape, marked it with a date or title, and put it in his archive." What an awesome way to clear a workspace in order to focus on the present, and what an innovative departure from conventional methods of dealing with cumbersome memorabilia!
But what I love most about the story of Warhol's time capsules is the intersection of creativity and organization. Warhol was a collector, and yet he recognized that space needed to be cleared. It started as a quirky experiment; "Although various studio assistants frequently handled the boxes over the years, few people seemed to recognize the enormous mass of material as anything other than 'Andy’s stuff.'" Now it's an enchanting and valuable collection, and I hope it inspires you to come up with your own creative solutions for the unceasing influx of stuff.
[Quotes in this post are from http://edu.warhol.org/app_aw_tc.html#about]
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