American Icons: Warhol's Soup Cans
Friday, August 07, 2009
Andy Warhol told people he painted soup because he ate it for lunch every day, but the paintings remain mysterious more than 40 years later.
Around 1961, Andy Warhol started painting cans of Campbell's soup, in all 32 varieties. He liked to tell people that his mother made him Campbell's soup and that's why he painted it.
The soup cans are probably the most recognizable images in American art, and Warhol intended it that way. He borrowed the Campbell's brand fame to help make his own; he appeared in Time in 1962 as part of the Pop revolution that was remaking art — destroying the serious, sublime aspirations of artists like Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko. Warhol was doing Campbell's soup at the same time he was painting Marilyn Monroe and Liz Taylor. In his art, Campbell's was a "star" like a movie pinup.
But as obvious as they look, the paintings are still mysterious today: Why paint something you can buy in a grocery store? What did Warhol mean? Studio 360's David Krasnow looked for answers.