NEW YORK (Reuters) - More than 30 years ago in the south of France, the camera switched its focus to the celebrity-obsessed artist Andy Warhol, who became the reluctant subject of a photo study that was then relegated to a storage cabinet filed under "W."
Sometime last year, a friend of photographer Steve Wood happened upon the trove of 35mm slides and persuaded wood that the "lost" images deserved their Warhol-allotted 15 minutes of fame.
The resulting exhibition, "Lost Then Found," opens on May 3 for 10 days in New York, and features unusual shots such as Warhol posing with a giant sunflower and backpack, or shown winking, with eyes closed and in close-up head shots.
"These photographs reveal a different Warhol than most of us have ever witnessed," said Christopher Bollen, editor of Interview magazine, which Warhol founded in 1969 and which is supporting the exhibition.
"It's a testament to the photographer and an opportunity to re-assess his bearing as one of the most influential artists of the last century," Bollen said.
The origins of the 1981 Deauville shoot were just as unlikely as its rediscovery.
Warhol and Wood, a British Daily Express newspaper veteran of both war front lines and fashion shows, met through a mutual acquaintance - New York restaurateur Elaine Kaufman, proprietress of the celebrity haunt Elaine's.
Both photographer and subject overcame initial reluctance, with Wood finding the light that had inspired the Impressionist painters a century earlier perfect for the private, wan Warhol, organizers of the exhibit said.
The Pittsburgh-based Andy Warhol Foundation, which oversees the late artist's canon, is also a partner on the exhibition, which takes place at the temporary New York City gallery, 345 meatpacking.
Warhol, who died in 1987 at age 58, was known for pop art paintings of iconic items such as a Campbell's soup can and eye-catching portraits of celebrities, including Marilyn Monroe, Mick Jagger and Elvis Presley. He also dabbled in music and film making and his studio, the Factory, was home base for a generation of New York celebrities and hipsters.
(Reporting by Chris Michaud, editing by Jill Serjeant)