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Campbell's Soup Cans
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thoutzager's picture

Founder & President

There are thirty small paintings of 32 cans of soup, one for every flavor that the Cambell'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 cancelled. Only two years later, Warhol set up the studio that would become know 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 expressionsim 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 Cambell's soup cans, but some theories include:

1) His mother used to make flowers out of tin cans, including Cambell's soup cans.

2) He was painting cartoons, but then Roy Liechtenstein made way cooler paintings of cartoons, so Warhol needed a new subject. His assistant suggested he should paint ordinary things like soup cans.

3) He ate soup and drank Coca Cola for lunch every day.

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

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Here is what Wikipedia says about Campbell's Soup Cans

Campbell's Soup Cans, which is sometimes referred to as 32 Campbell's Soup Cans, is a work of art produced between November 1961 and March or April 1962 by 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 individual paintings were produced by a printmaking method—the semi-mechanized screen printing process, using a non-painterly style. Campbell's Soup Cans' reliance on themes from popular culture helped to usher in pop art as a major art movement in the United States.

Warhol, a commercial illustrator who became a successful author, publisher, painter, and film director, showed the work on July 9, 1962, in his first one-man gallery exhibition as a fine artist in the Ferus Gallery of Los Angeles, California curated by Irving Blum. The exhibition marked the West Coast debut of pop art. The combination of the semi-mechanized process, the non-painterly style, and the commercial subject initially caused offense, as the work's blatantly mundane commercialism represented a direct affront to the technique and philosophy of abstract expressionism. In the United States the abstract expressionism art movement was dominant during the post-war period, and it held not only to "fine art" values and aesthetics but also to a mystical inclination. This controversy led to a great deal of debate about the merits and ethics of such work. Warhol's motives as an artist were questioned, and they continue to be topical to this day. The large public commotion helped transform Warhol from being an accomplished 1950s commercial illustrator to a notable fine artist, and it helped distinguish him from other rising pop artists. Although commercial demand for his paintings was not immediate, Warhol's association with the subject led to his name becoming synonymous with the Campbell's Soup Can paintings.

Warhol subsequently 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.