What Did The Soup Can Paintings Mean
Artist Andy Warhol with one of his later Campbell’s-themed projects
Pop turned traditional art upside down. Instead of portraits, landscapes, battle scenes or other subjects that experts thought of as art, artists like Warhol took images from advertising, comic books and other bits of popular culturethe pop in Pop art. They used humor and irony to comment on how mass production and consumerism had come to dominate so much of American life and culture. Abstract artists of the 1950s like Jackson Pollock may have glorified themselves as creative, individualist geniuses, but Pop artists of the 1960s took the opposite approach. They tried to smooth over or eliminate all traces of their own art-making processeslike brush strokesso that their work seemed almost mechanical, like the mass-produced subject matter it portrayed.
But theres one thing all 32 paintings have in common. Instead of detailing the intricate medallion at the center of every can’s labelrepresenting the gold medal of excellence that Campbells Soup won at the 1900 Paris ExpositionWarhol substituted a plain gold circle. Is it simply because other paints dont stick well on top of gold? Because getting the medals just right would take too much work and might never look good, anyway? pondered Warhol biographer Blake Gopnik. Did he just like the gold circles graphic punch?
An Introduction To Andy Warhol
|Place of Birth||Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania|
Andy Warholis a key figure and founding member of the Pop art movement. He relocated to New York City and found success as a commercial illustrator after graduating from the Carnegie Institute of Technology in 1949. When Glamour Magazine asked him to design a piece, he finally received his big break. He kept creating advertisements and drawings, and by 1955, he was New Yorks most well-known and copied commercial artist.
He created the first of his artworks in 1960, which used larger comic strip pictures originally intended for a window display.
He helped pioneer the technique wherein an enlarged photographic picture is converted to a silkscreen, which is then put on a canvas and inked from the back. This method was used for each Warhol silkscreen, allowing him to create the sequence of repeating but slightly different pictures for the media that he started in 1962.
It is possible to interpret these renowned Andy Warhol images, which include objects like Campbells Soup cans, dollar notes, Coca-Cola bottles, and celebrity faces, as critiques of the harshness, dullness, and ambivalence of American culture.
He was taken urgently to the hospital, where doctors declared him dead.
Andy Warhol Was Fascinated With Consumerist Culture
From a young age Warhol was obsessed with consumerist culture, including magazine advertisements, celebrities and fashion. This enduring interest came to play out in his best-known works of art, most notably in his iconic, hand-painted Campbells Soup Cans, 1962. This work is one of many he made with images from commercial culture, celebrating the simple motifs and appealingly bright colors of advertising. Before painting his soup cans, Warhol painted the canned Del Monte Peach Halves his mother used to give him as a child. He later brought other American brands into his artworks, including Brillo and Coca-Cola. We can even read Warhols many celebrity portraits as a response to mass media, and the idea of a persons image as a commercial brand.
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Why Did Andy Warhol Paint Campbells Soup Cans
Andy Warhol was an American artist, film director and producer who lived between 1928 and 1987. He is best known as one of the icons of the pop art movement from the 60s. Much of his artwork expressed advertising and celebrity culture that thrived during the 1960s, along with highlighting basic products that represented life at the time. Some of his best-known work includes the silkscreen paintings of Campbells Soup Cans .
These consisted of 32 separate silkscreen canvases that formed one iconic painting one that many people connect our brand with even today.
All That And A Can Of Campbells Soup
One pinnacle of the pop art movement iconography is that of Warhols Campbells soup cans. Curiosity weighs in on why a somewhat ordinary item could be the general focus of an entire series of work that would then be dubbed a cultural icon.
The story of the Campbells soup can begins at an even more unsurprising place, Warhols breaking into the fine art world. When he was trying to break out of his mold as a window designer. The story goes that he had done this by consulting with his friend and minor dealer of the time, Muriel Latow.
When asking Muriel for advice on the aptest way to break into the fine art scene, she offered some unconventional advice, paint something you see every day- like a soup can
One would consider this advice to be trivial given this was a point in the art that we had seen breakthroughs in the innovations of American painting through the abstract expressionist movement and now to pivot to something as common and banal as an ordinary item? unheard of, but Warhol saw the vision.
If Warhol wanted a recognizable product of certifiably popular culture to turn into fancy art, Campbells soup seemed likely to beat even Superman and Popeye and to get him out from under the shadow of Lichtenstein at the same time.
Andy Warhol buying Campbell’s Soup at Gristede’s supermarket on Second Ave, 1964. Photograph by Bob Adelman.
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Developing An Art Style
Whilst beginning his commercial work in the early 1960s, Warhol chose to spend time developing his own unique style. Initially beginning with canvas work in a comic strip style, Warhol learned how to silkscreen in 1961, and the medium to paint Campbells Soup was born.
At this time, Warhol also developed his style of simple and repeated work that, at the time, opposed the soft edges and almost sensual style of popular art and still life. His realistic interpretations of regularly accessible food and cultural items made his art intriguing to people who painted for fantasy, or in the comic strip style.
The Beauty Of A Simple Can
Campbells Soup Cans was painted by hand. Warhol used paint as well as serigraphy. This enabled him to use the rules of art while simultaneously distorting them, observing reality to see it better As he put it, Everything has its beauty, but not everyone sees it.
For Warhol, poetry was also in perception. A tin can could become a flower vase. A brand logo could be delicately painted with a paintbrush. And an industrial soup could become a symbol of art of Pop Art!
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When Warhols show opened in 1962, Pop was just getting started. People had no idea what to make of art that was so different from everything that art was supposed to be.
For one thing, Irving Blum, one of the owners of Ferus Gallery, chose to display the paintings on narrow shelves running the length of the gallery, not unlike a supermarket aisle. Cans sit on shelves, he later said about his installation. Why not?
The show didnt make the splash Blum and Warhol hoped for. In fact, what little response that came from either the public or art critics could be harsh. This young artist is either a soft-headed fool or a hard-headed charlatan, one critic wrote. A cartoon in the Los Angeles Times lampooned the paintings and their supposed viewers. Frankly, the cream of asparagus does nothing for me, one art lover says to another, standing in the gallery. But the terrifying intensity of the chicken noodle gives me a real Zen feeling. An art dealer down the street from Ferus Gallery was even more biting. He arranged real cans of Campbells Soup in his window, along with a sign that read: Do Not Be Misled. Get the Original. Our Low Price Two for 33 Cents.
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A Tin Can From Popular Culture
When Warhol’s 32 Campbell’s Soup Cans were first shown to the public in 1962, they were arranged in a horizontal line, reminiscent of the way soup cans are stored on the average person’s kitchen shelf.
He thus made a smashing entry into the art world and popularized Pop Art in the United States after its emergence in England under the impulse of the Independent Group composed of artists like Eduardo Paolozzi, Richard Hamilton, Nigel Henderson, Alison and Peter Smithson.
According to Andy Warhol, Pop Art must be “popular, ephemeral, disposable, cheap spiritual, sexy, full of tricks, fascinating and that pays off big.”
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Warhol Had Campbells Soup For Lunch For 20 Years
Before he became famous for repetition in his artworks, Warhol was attracted to repetition in his personal life and appearance. By choosing to wear a daily uniform of a white wig, glasses and polo neck jumper Warhol ensured his look became as iconic as his artworks.
And it wasnt just his personal style that embraced repetition, even his eating habits mirrored his art. Speaking of his choice of Campbells Soup as a subject, the artist remarked, I used to drink it. I used to have the same lunch every day, for 20 years, I guess, the same thing over and over again.
Here Is What Wikipedia Says About Campbell’s Soup Cans
Campbell’s Soup Cans is a work of art produced between November 1961 and March or April 1962 by American artist Andy Warhol. It consists of thirty-two canvases, each measuring 20 inches in height × 16 inches in width and each consisting of a painting of a Campbell’s Soup canone of each of the canned soup varieties the company offered at the time. The non-painterly works were produced by a screen printing process and depict imagery deriving from popular culture and belong to the pop artmovement.
Warhol was a commercial illustrator before embarking on painting. Campbell’s Soup Cans was shown on July 9, 1962, in Warhol’s first one-man gallery exhibition in the Ferus Gallery of Los Angeles, California curated by Irving Blum. The exhibition marked the West Coast debut of pop art. The subject matter initially caused offense, in part for its affront to the technique and philosophy of the earlier art movement of abstract expressionism. Warhol’s motives as an artist were questioned. Warhol’s association with the subject led to his name becoming synonymous with the Campbell’s Soup Can paintings.
Check out the full Wikipedia article about Campbell’s Soup Cans
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Why Did The Paintings Become Such A Sensation
Left: Campbell’s ‘Souper’ dress, a paper fashion inspired by Andy Warhol’s Pop soup can paintings.
Once the public and the critics got over their shock, they warmed to Warhols soup cans. For one thing, they made art fun. How hard could it be to understand a painting when the original was probably on your kitchen shelf? Critics started to see the sly, ironic humor in Warhols portraits of Scotch Broth and Chicken Gumbo. And Blums decision to keep the paintings together heightened their impact.
The show at Ferus Gallery marked a turning point in Warhols career. After the Campbells Soup Cans, Warhol switched from painting to silkscreen printing, a process that produced more mechanical-looking results and allowed him to create multiple versions of a single work. His reputation continued to rise. By 1964, the asking price for a single soup can painting not in Blums set had shot up to $1,500, and New York socialites were wearing paper dresses in a soup can printcustom-made by Warhol himselfto gallery openings.
It didnt take long for Campbells Soups itself to join the fun. In the late 1960s, the company jumped on the then-popular fad for paper dresses, coming out with the Souper Dress, a kicky little number covered in Warhol-esque soup labels. Each dress had three gold bands at the bottom, so the wearer could snip her dress to the ideal length without cutting into the soup can pattern. The price: $1 and two Campbells Soup labels.
Early Life And Beginnings
Warhol was born on August 6, 1928, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He was the fourth child of Ondrej Warhola and , whose first child was born in their homeland of Austria-Hungary and died before their move to the U.S.
His parents were working-class Lemko emigrants from Mikó, Austria-Hungary . Warhol’s father emigrated to the United States in 1914, and his mother joined him in 1921, after the death of Warhol’s grandparents. Warhol’s father worked in a coal mine. The family lived at 55 Beelen Street and later at 3252 Dawson Street in the Oakland neighborhood of Pittsburgh. The family was Ruthenian Catholic and attended St. John Chrysostom Byzantine Catholic Church. Andy Warhol had two elder brothersPavol , the eldest, was born before the family emigrated Ján was born in Pittsburgh. Pavol’s son, James Warhola, became a successful children’s book illustrator.
In third grade, Warhol had Sydenham’s chorea , the nervous system disease that causes involuntary movements of the extremities, which is believed to be a complication of scarlet fever which causes skin pigmentation blotchiness. At times when he was confined to bed, he drew, listened to the radio and collected pictures of movie stars around his bed. Warhol later described this period as very important in the development of his personality, skill-set and preferences. When Warhol was 13, his father died in an accident.
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Why Did Andy Warhol Paint Campbell Soup Cans
Known to be one of his most iconic work of all time, alongside his Marilyn Monroe portrait, the 32 Campbells Soup Cans from 1962 is still available to see by museum visitors today at the MoMA in New York. It was a personal favourite of Warhols, and something he enjoyed painting. He was quoted in an interview years after painting them as saying I should have just done the Campbells Soups and kept on doing them because everybody only does one painting anyway.
Many stories say that Warhols choice to paint soup cans reflected on his own devotion to Campbells soup as a customer. The most accepted story on the subject is that Warhol was having a conversation with a friend who encouraged him to paint something that you see every day, something that everyone would recognise. Campbells Soup was suggested as the appropriate brand an iconic American product that was readily found in cupboards across the country.
Andy Warhol Used The Semi
To make each work in the Campbell’s Soup series, the American visual artist developed a quasi-automated, non-pictorial screen printing technique that earned him a lot of criticism from his contemporaries and the art world in general.
Andy Warhol photographed in 1977
The commercial aspect of the subject matter also caused a great deal of offence as it represented a direct affront to the philosophy and technique of abstract expressionism in vogue at the time. This controversy opened a debate on the merit and ethics of creating this type of artwork. The artistic world even questioned the quality of these objects, was it really art?
It was through this turmoil that Andy Warhol became known, and the choice of this consumer product as an emblem had a significant impact on his career.
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Whats The Story Behind Campbells Soup Cans
One of the first exhibitions to launch Warhols rise to fame in the art world was held in July 1962 at the Ferus Gallery in Los Angeles. The show presented 32 canvases measuring 51x41cm, each one depicting a different flavour of Campbells Soup, lined up in a single row on a ledge, wrapping around the gallery. Campbells Soup Cans were some of Warhols first works based on common consumer goods and introduced many of the themes and techniques that would continue in his works. These 32 canvases give the illusion of being mass-produced, like printed advertisements, however each was hand painted, indeed the only variation between each canvas is the flavour of the soup. This contrast between the subject and its representation embodies the tension between high and low art, advertising and painting, that was at the crux of Warhols work and pop art. With Campbells Soup Cans, Warhol took a commonplace everyday item and elevated it to an iconic symbol of Pop Art.
Campbells Soup Cans also mark a transitional moment for Warhol, as he moved from painting to his famous photographic-silkscreen printing process. Adopting this traditionally commercial technique, he thus linked his work even closer to advertising, claiming: I dont think art should be only for the select few, I think it should be for the mass of the American people. Indeed, he would later return to the Campbells Soup Cans and reproduce the motif with this technique.
Campbells Soup By Andy Warhol
These soup cans were a milestone in Pop Art when they were first produced in 1962 as a set of 32 canvases. In that year, the paintings were initially presented in a grouping similar to grocery store merchandise. The white and red Campbells Soup cans were replicated, with each can representing a distinct taste and looking much like the real thing. The artists workmanship was visible in the little variances in the wording and the hand-stamped fleur-de-lis emblems on each can, even though they looked just like the well-known grocery goods.
The series is all the more fascinating because of this contrast between meticulous imitation and the artists hand.
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