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There are thirty small paintings of 32 cans of soup, one for every flavor that the Campbell's Soup Company produced in 1962.

When Warhol showed this set of paintings at a one-man show in LA, only six of the thirty-two paintings sold, at a mere $100 each. His dealer bought back those six in order to keep the set complete and paid Warhol $1,000 for the lot. Warhol's next show was canceled. Only two years later, Warhol set up the studio that would become known as "The Factory" and would make him uber-famous, driving up those prices astronomically.

This painting was very unpopular with some people because they felt it was too realistic. Abstract Expressionism was all the rage, which is ironic because when the abstract expressionists first appeared, they offended people who preferred more realistic art.

No one is 100% sure why Warhol painted Campbell's soup cans, but some theories include:

  • His mother used to make flowers out of tin cans, including Campbell's soup cans.
  • He was painting cartoons, but then Roy Lichtenstein made way cooler paintings of cartoons, so Warhol needed a new subject. His assistant suggested he should paint ordinary things like soup cans.
  • He ate soup and drank Coca Cola for lunch every day.

Warhol had no commercial relationship with the Campbell's Soup company.  Talk about great free advertising for Campbell's and a great art launchpad for Warhol! 

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Here is what Wikipedia says about Campbell's Soup Cans

Campbell's Soup Cans (sometimes referred to as 32 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 (51 cm) in height × 16 inches (41 cm) in width and each consisting of a painting of a Campbell's Soup can—one of each of the canned soup varieties the company offered at the time. The non-painterly works were Warhol's hand-painted depictions of printed imagery deriving from commercial products and popular culture and belong to the pop art movement.

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.

Warhol produced a wide variety of art works depicting Campbell's Soup cans during three distinct phases of his career, and he produced other works using a variety of images from the world of commerce and mass media. Today, the Campbell's Soup cans theme is generally used in reference to the original set of paintings as well as the later Warhol drawings and paintings depicting Campbell's Soup cans. Because of the eventual popularity of the entire series of similarly themed works, Warhol's reputation grew to the point where he was not only the most-renowned American pop art artist, but also the highest-priced living American artist.

Check out the full Wikipedia article about Campbell's Soup Cans