Andy Warhol's Campbell’s Soup Cans are perhaps the most well-known images of American modern art. Initially created as a series of thirty two canvases in 1962, the soup cans gained international acclaim as a breakthrough in Pop Art.
Warhol believed that art shouldn’t be “only for the select few,” but rather “for the mass of the American people.” Throughout his career, he drew on his early experiences as a commercial illustrator, appropriating motifs from advertising in his work. Warhol deliberately used these associations to consumer culture and mass media to make people question what qualifies as a true work of art.
When Warhol first exhibited the original Campbell’s Soup Cans series, the canvases were displayed on shelves, just like products in a grocery aisle. In 1968, Warhol turned to the photo-silkscreen process, originally invented for commercial use, to re-invent the works. This process, which would later become his signature medium, erased any irregularities between the various pieces and elevated them to a level of precision matching the design of the physical cans. As famously stated by Warhol himself, the reason behind his desire to create uniform and mechanical images was simple: “I want to be a machine.”
There are several variations of the story behind why Warhol chose Campbell’s Soup Cans as the subject of this series. The most common theory is that he simply liked it – fellow American Pop artist Robert Indiana claimed “I knew Andy very well. The reason he painted soup cans is that he liked soup.” Warhol himself also stated that he “used to drink [Campbell’s soup]. I used to have the same lunch every day, for 20 years, I guess, the same thing over and over again.” Another possibility is that Muriel Latow, an aspiring interior decorator and owner of the Latow Art Gallery in Manhattan suggested the idea to Warhol, telling him to paint “something you see every day and something that everybody would recognize. Something like a can of Campbell's Soup.” It’s also suggested that Warhol was inspired by the way his mother used to cut flowers out of old tin cans lying around the house.
Whatever the reason for the creation of this series, it is undisputed that Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup Cans completely changed the concept of art appreciation and cemented his status as the most-renowned American pop art artist and, at one point, the highest-priced living American Artist. In May 2006, a variation of Pepper Pot: Small Torn Campbell Soup Can (Pepper Pot) sold for $11,776,000 and set the current auction world record for a painting from the Campbell Soup Can series.
Campbell's Soup I: Pepper Pot (1968) is a screenprint on paper with a 35” x 23” sheet size. This Pepper Pot is the 198th print from the edition of 250, it is hand signed in ball-point pen on verso, and is referenced in Feldman II.51. For more information about Andy Warhol or Campbell’s Soup I, please contact the gallery.