ANDY WARHOL’S 32 Campbell’s soup cans
Author: Andy Warhol (1928-1987)
Painting: Campbell’s soup cans; Museum of Modern Art, New York
Technique: synthetic polymer paint on thirty-two canvases, each canvas 50.8 x 40.6 cm
Theme: conceptual figuration
- geometrically seen, objects in the painting represent cylinders (cans)
- light is irrelevant, since the painting represents an overall stylistic etiquette of a mass product
- the painting shows 32 cans of Campbell’s soup – shown as a commercial (commercial design), all equal except for the slogan on them, that shows 32 different taste of that time.
- one could say the painting represents still life
- it shows trendy objects of that time’s trendy consumer’s society – cans of prepared food; the shapes are figurative
- colour facet has been minimized. The red colour is accented, as well as black, gold, yellow.The background is white.
- No texture can be defined – although these canvases were handmade, the artist was more fond of a lithograph-made pattern – not a handmade but rather mechanical. For some tiny details, the artist used even an impres.
- the perspective is irrelevant
- Repetition – all canvases are equal and in the original exhibition they were placed in one row (all in one row on a shelf)
- the objects are completely flat , no deepness – only deepness is visible on the can’s lid, created by shading
- lines are present, the outer lines of objects are bordered black – visible influence of comic and drawing as a technique (the cans resemble a coloured drawing)
- all shapes are geometric and clean
- the whole piece of art is provoking and pointing out something else – completely unexplainable outside it’s context
Warhol’s Campbell’s soup cans represent without any doubt Pop Art in it’s real form. Made to distract the observer to irrelevant things, things which escape the artistic eye and cannot be realized as a part of rational thinking because of their banality. Warhol has been thinking for a long time which object would best represent his attitude. It was for Muriel Latow that he had chosen to use soup cans. At first he thought of using comic templates but Roy Lichtenstein did it before. Warhol did not intend to criticize the modern society. According to his own words he “loved plastic”, he himself once said that he would like to become a machine. In short, he was fascinated with the modern society and all of it. That is why he painted only things he was fascinated with (his first work was a one dollar bank, followed by soup cans – which he allegedly ate for 20 years every day, Hollywood stars and glamour.
Out of things he loved, Warhol created icons, new icons, icons of a new culture. Like icons of saints were all present, common and usual in the pre-renaissance period, Warhol made icons of what was “sacred” in the postmodern age – money, glamour, the consumer’s society objects (for the first time in history, the super-rich as well as the poor and ordinary people drank Coca Cola). This is exactly the point that shows the irony behind Warhol’s work – the role of “sacred” could not have been taken over by something that in it’s essence was profane and banal (something like a can of soup). It seems however, that Warhol himself was aware of this fact. For that reason he has never taken off his mask, a mask that represented the person he made himself be (people who knew him never knew whether he was serious or ironic).
An ailing and insecure child of Rusyn immigrants from Slovakia, the son of poor coal miners from Pittsburgh who could barely speak English, becomes an icon himself. A fashion and art icon of America’s 60’s, creating an aura of intangibility and undescerency, gathering at the same time a bunch of followers, some of which became an icon themselves – music and film icons, etc. Warhol showed that the art of banality maybe was not banal at all.
Andy Warhol, original name Andrew Warhola (born August 6, 1928, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S.—died February 22, 1987, New York, New York), American artist and filmmaker, an initiator and leading exponent of the Pop art movement of the 1960s whose mass-produced art apotheosized the supposed banality of the commercial culture of the United States. An adroit self-publicist, he projected a concept of the artist as an impersonal, even vacuous, figure who is nevertheless a successful celebrity, businessman, and social climber.
The son of Ruthenian (Rusyn) immigrants from what is now eastern Slovakia, Warhol graduated in 1949 from the Carnegie Institute of Technology (now Carnegie Mellon University), Pittsburgh, with a degree in pictorial design. He then went to New York City, where he worked as a commercial illustrator for about a decade.
In 1968 Warhol was shot and nearly killed by Valerie Solanas, one of an assemblage of underground film and rock music stars, assorted hangers-on, and social curiosities who frequented his studio, known as the Factory.
Warhol’s work is featured in the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh. In his will, the artist dictated that his entire estate be used to create a foundation for “the advancement of the visual arts.” The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts was established in 1987.
(source: Encyclopedia Britanica)