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American Pop: The Art of Soup

Andy Warhol is widely considered the most famous American artist. His iconic Pop images are known and loved the world over. In 1962, Warhol exhibited a set of thirty-two paintings depicting Campbell’s Soup Cans, launching his career and bringing Pop Art to the United States. These paintings and the Pop Art movement changed the trajectory of contemporary art in America and their legacy is still as important today as it was in the 1960s.

The Campbell’s Soup company is an American icon in its own right, having built its brand over 150 years from their headquarters in New Jersey. In 1897, an employee invented condensed soup which revolutionized the canned soup industry and allowed them to introduce their famous line of Campbell’s Condensed Soups. Warhol’s 1962 paintings represent the soups available at the time, but Campbell’s Condensed Tomato soup has always been the iconic label. When asked why he painted the soup cans, Warhol famously answered “I used to have the same [Campbell’s Soup] lunch every day for twenty years.”

In 2004, Campbell’s celebrated the transformation of their soup cans into art with a limited edition release of tomato soup with classic Warhol-inspired labels. The cans were bundled in four-packs and sold through the Pittsburgh-based supermarket Giant Eagle. A copy of Warhol’s signature was on each can. In 2006, a smaller edition of the same cans was issued and sold through Barney’s in New York. To commemorate the 50th anniversary of Warhol’s 1962 paintings, Campbell’s issued a new edition of four-pack soup cans that were sold through Target stores in 2012. The earlier editions are now collectibles and have found their way into Pop art collections. Thanks to Warhol’s art, Campbell’s Soup will always be linked to the Pop Art movement and has become as American as baseball and apple pie.

We will be offering multiple four-packs of these soup cans in our upcoming 20th Century, Modern & Contemporary Fine Art sale—date coming soon!

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