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Andy Warhol
courtesy of the Andy Warhol Foundation

Thousands of unseen photos of Andy Warhol are being made public

130,000 pictures of the pop artist and friends like Jean-Michel Basquiat, Debbie Harry, and more will be put on display

“A picture means I know where I was every minute,” Andy Warhol once said, the pop artist who fervently documented his own every move. “That’s why I take pictures.” 

The Andy Warhol Foundation is releasing thousands of previously never before seen photos of the legendary artist with friends and celebrities for the first time. From 3,600 contact sheets, over 130,000 pictures from 1976 to his death in 1987 will be collated in a new book, exhibition, and online initiative the Contact Warhol Project. 

The Guardian reports that Warhol printed just 17 per cent of the uncovered shots, with contact sheets marked with ‘X’ for a rejection and ‘O’ for approval. The collection is owned by Stanford University, where a selection will be on display in September. The digital library of images will launch before the end of 2018, and the book will be published in November.

From the thousands of images across his life, notable figures like Debbie Harry, Truman Capote, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Liza Minelli, and Warhol’s boyfriend Jon Gould appear in club scenes and more intimate settings. More explicit images show his close friend Victor Hugo engaging in sex with multiple men and taking cocaine, thought to have inspired Warhol’s Sex Parts silkscreen series. Some of the other more NSFW images have been cropped to hide the identities of others.

“It is Warhol as you’ve never seen him before. You’re seeing his daily life in a way that’s just never been possible before because these contact sheets have never been available to public view,” says Richard Meyer, an art professor at Stanford where the archive and “visual diary” lives.

“The contact sheets not only offer new and important insights about Warhol’s life and work, they also help clarify issues surrounding what motivated and preoccupied him during the last decade of his life,” he told the Guardian

In 2019, a huge Warhol exhibition will debut at the Whitney in New York as the museum’s first major retrospective on the artist since 1989, looking at his later works that came about after the attempt on his life by Valerie Solanas in 1968.

Contact Warhol: Photography Without End is on display at the Cantor Arts Centre from September 26 to January 6 2019