More about Campbell's Soup Cans

  • All
  • Info
  • Video
  • Shop

Founder & President

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! 

Featured Content

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 June 1962 by the 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 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 at the Ferus Gallery of Los Angeles, California, curated by Irving Blum. The exhibition marked the West Coast debut of pop art. Blum owned and possessed the painting series until he loaned it to the National Gallery of Art for several years in 1987 and then sold it to the Museum of Modern Art in 1996. 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. After considering litigation, the Campbell Soup Company embraced Warhol's Campbell's Soup cans theme. Today, the Campbell's Soup cans theme is generally used in reference to the original set of 32 canvases, but it also refers to other Warhol productions: approximately 20 similar Campbell's Soup painting variations also made in the early 1960s; 20 3 feet (91 cm) in height × 2 feet (61 cm) in width, multi-colored canvases from 1965; related Campbell's Soup drawings, sketches, and stencils over the years; two different 250-count 10-element sets of screen prints produced in 1968 and 1969; and other inverted/reversed Campbell's Soup can painting variations in the 1970s. 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.

There is some confusion because sometimes the later screen print sets are referred to as if they are the Campbell's Soup Can set, and sometimes the original set of painting canvases is referred to as if it is a set of screenprints. In addition, there is ongoing production and sale of unauthorized screen prints, of what is legally Warhol's intellectual property, as a result of a falling out with former employees. There are also varied explanations for this theme. The popular explanation of his choice of the Campbell's Soup cans theme is that one artistic acquaintance inspired the original series with a suggestion that brought him closer to his roots. There are other artists who are said to have also influenced the pursuit of this theme.

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