Soup de Jour? | Can Do

Warhol proved you can make Souper-Art – but why Broth-er?

Pop art is the art movement that emerged in the mid-1950s in Britain and in the late 1950s in the United States. Pop art presented a challenge to traditions of fine art by including imagery from popular culture such as advertising, news, etc. Pop art employs aspects of mass culture, such as advertising, comic books and mundane cultural objects. Product labeling and logos figure prominently in the imagery chosen by pop artists, like in the Campbell’s Soup Cans labels, by Andy Warhol. Even the labeling on the shipping box containing retail items has been used as subject matter in pop art, for example in Warhol’s Campbell’s Tomato Juice Box 1964, or his Brillo Soap Box sculptures.

Andy Warhol (1928-1987) was born in Pittsburgh, the son of Czech immigrants. He moved to New York where he became a successful artist in 1949. He had started his artistic career as a graphic artist whose illustrations appeared in glossy fashion magazines and like any savvy advertising executive, Warhol learned how to create a demand for his product. Warhol regarded his paintings as merchandise, not much different from a can of soup. And like a major manufacturer, he produced not one, but many copies and versions of his “products”. He called his studio “The Factory” and he took up silk-screening because he could put his assistants and interns to work on an assembly line, churning out art, the same way Ford turned out automobiles.

His Campbell’s Soup Cans’ (aka 32 Campbell’s Soup Cans) were first shown on July 9, 1962 in his first one-man gallery exhibition as a fine artist in the Ferus Gallery in Los Angeles, California. It consisted of thirty-two canvases, each measuring 51 cm × 41 cm; 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.

Since Warhol’s death in 1987, his fans have made the pilgrimage to his grave in St. John the Baptist Byzantine Catholic Cemetery outside Pittsburgh Penn. It has become a tradition to leave a can of Campbell’s soup on his gravestone it. Isn’t that just soup-er!

“Waiter, what’s this fly doing in my soup?”
“I think it’s doing the backstroke!”

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