Andy Warhol was an American artist, film director and producer who lived between 1928 and 1987. He is best known as one of the icons of the pop art movement from the 60s. Much of his artwork expressed advertising and celebrity culture that thrived during the 1960s, along with highlighting basic products that represented life at the time. Some of his best-known work includes the silkscreen paintings of Campbell’s Soup Cans (1962).
These consisted of 32 separate silkscreen canvases that formed one iconic painting – one that many people connect our brand with even today.
Warhol’s Early Life
Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to Austro-Hungarian parents, Warhol began his career working as a commercial and advertising artist. His work was initially commissioned by Glamour Magazine and mainly requiring him to draw shoes. In the 1950s he went on to be a designer for the shoe manufacturer Israel Miller. This is where he began to develop his style of multiple variations of the same start point, although his shoes were always sophisticated, unique and classy.
Developing an art style
Whilst beginning his commercial work in the early 1960’s, Warhol chose to spend time developing his own unique style. Initially beginning with canvas work in a comic strip style, Warhol learned how to silkscreen in 1961, and the medium to paint Campbell’s Soup was born.
At this time, Warhol also developed his style of simple and repeated work that, at the time, opposed the soft edges and almost sensual style of popular art and still life. His realistic interpretations of regularly accessible food and cultural items made his art intriguing to people who painted for fantasy, or in the comic strip style.
Why Did Andy Warhol Paint Campbell Soup Cans?
Known to be one of his most iconic work of all time, alongside his Marilyn Monroe portrait, the ‘32 Campbell’s Soup Cans’ from 1962 is still available to see by museum visitors today at the MoMA in New York. It was a personal favourite of Warhol’s, and something he enjoyed painting. He was quoted in an interview years after painting them as saying “I should have just done the Campbell’s Soups and kept on doing them… because everybody only does one painting anyway.”
Many stories say that Warhol’s choice to paint soup cans reflected on his own devotion to Campbell’s soup as a customer. The most accepted story on the subject is that Warhol was having a conversation with a friend who encouraged him to paint something that you see every day, something that everyone would recognise. Campbells Soup was suggested as the appropriate brand – an iconic American product that was readily found in cupboards across the country.
Others suggest it was due to his love of Campbells soup, and that it was a reminder of a daily part of his life. In a 1985 interview with The Face, Warhol described the reason he did his first tin-can paintings, notably his one of Del Monte Peach Halves, as being his mother’s use of them. He reminisced on the way she would cut up tin cans and turn them into flowers.
Regardless of the origin of the Campbells Soup paintings, this piece has become synonymous with the Campbells brand. While there was no commercial link that started the relationship, Campbells did go on to work with Warhol in the 1980’s through a piece of commissioned work.