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Black Bean Campbell's Soup, 1968 by Andy Warhol

Black Bean Campbell's Soup, 1968 by Andy Warhol
Black Bean Campbell's Soup, 1968 by Andy Warhol

Black Bean Campbell's Soup; Serigraph, 1968, on smooth wove paper, signed in ball-point pen Andy Warhol and stamp-numbered 173/250 in ink verso; published by Factory Additions, New York; Size - Sheet 35" x 23", Frame 43 1/2" x 31 1/2"; Framed with an acid free white mat, white wood frame, and plexiglass; Catalog Raisonne: Feldman/Schellmann: II.44.

Warhol said of Campbell’s soup, “I used to drink it. I used to have the same lunch every day, for 20 years, I guess, the same thing over and over again.”

In 1962, which heralded the arrival of Pop Art as an artistic movement, Andy Warhol began his transition from hand painting to the production of photo-transferred art. Warhol was always searching and asking friends for suggestions on subject matter, and an acquaintance suggested he paint something that everybody recognized, "like Campbell's Soup." Warhol appropriated the idea literally and the resulting soup can projections were traced onto canvas and then meticulously hand-painted. The result appeared both uniform and mechanical, but the thirty two different hand painted flavors of soup showed subtle variations and imperfections, thereby elevating the the subject matter resulting in the production of the high art ready-made and creating a masterpiece of early Pop Art.

The set of thirty two canvas soup cans were first exhibited by art dealer Irving Blum at his Ferus Gallery in Los Angeles. The paintings were arranged on grocery store shelves. The Campbell's Soup Cans caused a sensation in the art world with their banal mundanity and their mirror of commercialism. A dealer in a nearby Gallery even sold actual soup cans touting them as cheaper than a Warhol.

Blum did manage to sell several of the individual soup cans, including one to his friend the actor Dennis Hopper; but decided that the set should stay together, so he bought the paintings back, and paid Andy for the entire set ($1000 paid over 10 months for all 32 paintings). After Warhol's death, Irving Blum would sell the entire set to New York's Museum of Modern Art for $15 million.

Irving Blum, by preserving Campbell's Soup Cans was critical to the success of the work and as Sara McCorquodale stated in 2015, "The work seemed to speak of the spirit of the spirit of a new America, one that thoroughly embraced the consumer culture of the new decade. Before the end of the year Campbell's Soup Cans was so on-trend that Manhattan socialites were wearing soup can printed dresses to high-society events." The success of Campbell's Soup Cans also marked a turning point of Warhol's working process, as he turned completely towards utilizing silkscreens for both painting and printing. He continued to use the Campbell's soup can as subject matter and in 1968 he would reinterpret his famous work as Campbell's Soup I, a portfolio of ten signed and numbered serigraphs. By utilizing silkscreens, Warhol was able to achieve the mechanized (factory) look that he desired, thereby fulfilling his desire to "be a machine." Each soup can in the suite of ten would be identical varying only by their flavor: Black Bean, Chicken Noodle, Tomato, Onion (Made with Beef Stock), Vegetable (Made with Beef Stock), Beef (With Vegetables and Barley), Green Pea, Pepper Pot, Consumme (Beef) Gelatin Added, and Cream of Mushroom. The soup can prints would become the greatest of his graphic oeuvre, and forever be instantly recognized as quintessential Warhol.

Black Bean Campbell's Soup, 1968 by Andy Warhol is an absolutely fantastic work by the great Pop artist and would be a wonderful addition to any art collection!


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