The soup cans are such a career-defining step in the artist’s trajectory that Warhol, reflecting on his life, claimed that Campbell’s Soup Cans was his favorite work and that he should have just done the Campbell’s Soups and kept on doing them because “everybody only does one painting, anyway”. When first exhibited, the use of printing techniques by the artist, his choice of style and the commercial subject of the artwork placed it in the center of discussions regarding ethics and its validity as a work of art, as his representation of mundane commercial products was a direct affront to abstract expressionism. These controversies helped promote Andy Warhol, thus transforming him into the most well-known pop artist worldwide.
Warhol subsequently produced a wide range of artworks depicting Campbell’s Soup cans, while the use of other commercial products and mass-media icons as subjects – such as Coca-Cola bottles and Marilyn Monroe – also became a trademark of his work. Today, the 32 Campbell’s Soup Cans is in the collection of New York’s Museum of Modern Art and is set to be part of the first solo retrospective of Warhol’s career since 1989, at New York’s Whitney Museum in November 2018.
Here are 5 facts you probably did not know about the 32 Campbell’s Soup Cans by Andy Warhol:
1 – They were originally 32 different artworks
The 32 canvases were conceived as 32 different artworks and started to sell as such. However, after realizing the conceptual impact of the canvases together, Warhol’s agent rebought half a dozen paintings to compose the work as we know it today.
2 – Warhol depicted all of the 32 real flavors available
The work illustrates a series of repetitions of the same can at a glance, but the reason the artist painted thirty-two different canvases is that Warhol reproduced every flavor available in 1962.
3 – The work Inspired Warhol’s semi-mechanic production technique
It was during the process of creation of Campbell’s Soup Cans that Warhol first introduced silkscreen in his work. This technique would become a signature of the artist’s unique brand, including his iconic portraits of Elvis and Jacqueline Kennedy.
4 – Rival art galleries mocked the work
One artist from a rival gallery, as a means of provoking and getting media attention, displayed actual soup cans stacked over each other in his gallery. The rival promoted the event by stating that he sold his cans at two for 33 cents, way cheaper than Warhol’s $100 each.
5 – Warhol really loved the soup!
He once said, “I used to drink it. I used to have the same lunch every day, for 20 years, I guess, the same thing repeatedly.” Warhol’s admiration of how the uniformity of each flavor was consistent from can to can inspired him to explore repetitions during his life work.