Andy Warhol was an American artist, film director and producer who lived between 1928 and 1987. During his life, he became very well–known in the pop art movement that emerged in the US and UK art scene in the mid to late 50s. Much of his artwork expressed advertising and celebrity culture that was thriving during the 1960s. Some of his best-known work includes the silkscreen paintings of Campbell’s Soup Cans (1962).
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Warhol’s Early Life
Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Warhol initially had a career as an illustrator for Glamour Magazine in the 1940s. In the 1950s he went on to work as a designer for New York-based shoe manufacturer Israel Miller; a position in which he became very successful. Warhol’s ink drawings of shoe advertisements featured in some of his earliest exhibitions at the Bodley Gallery in New York.
Warhol’s artistic technique
While working in the shoe industry, Warhol developed his “blotted line” technique. This involved applying ink to paper and then blotting the ink while still wet, a method that was akin to the printmaking process. His use of tracing paper and ink allowed him to repeat the basic image and also to create endless variations on the same theme; a method that foreshadows his 1960s silk-screen canvas.
Why Did Andy Warhol Paint Soup Cans?
Known to be his most iconic work of all time, the ‘32 Campbell’s Soup Cans’ from 1962 is still being enjoyed by museum visitors today, at the MoMA in New York. It was known that when reflecting back on his career, Warhol claimed that this piece was his favourite work, and that “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. Robert Indiana once said, “I knew Andy very well. The reason he painted soup cans is that he liked soup.”
Warhol was thought to have focused on them because they composed a daily dietary staple. Others said Campbell’s was a brand “close to his heart”.
Regardless of the reason why Warhol decided to focus on Campbell’s soup, this piece of art certainly brought him the attention and fame that lives on today.