HARRY J. JOHNSON

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Cambbell's Soup Can Example of one of the many Campbell’s Soup prints by Andy Warhol.
Andy Warhol (1928–1987) was one of the originators and the most famous figure of the Pop Art movement of the 1960s. Pop Art, with its adoption of icons from popular culture, was a rebellion against the Abstract Expressionist movement of the ’40s and ’50s, which was considered by some to be high-minded and elitist.

After studying design and painting at the Carnegie Institute of Technology, Pittsburgh, Warhol arrived in New York in 1950 and became a commercial artist. He was hugely successful and won the prestigious Art Directors’ Club Medal in 1952 and again in 1957. In the advertising business he was considered the best and was widely imitated.

Warhol in 1960 began to reproduce widely recognized images such as newspaper ads and comic strips. Soon he was replicating the packaging of everyday products. His first gallery shows were in 1962, when the Ferus Gallery in Los Angeles showed his ‘32 Campbell's Soup Cans’ (1961-1962).

His soup cans had nothing to do with originality. They emphasized sameness, in size and color and product. Only the flavor labels were different, e.g., tomato, onion, etc. The product’s fame, Campbell’s Soup, soon became his own. He used the medium of silk screening to because it required the least work and it lent itself to mass production. He didn’t bother to clean up printing imperfections. They became part of the art. In fact, unlike the prototypical fine artist, he worked more like a manufacturer in his art studio, which he aptly named The Factory.

According to Warhol biographer Victor Bokris, a friend of Warhol’s, an art dealer, suggested he should paint what his liked most in life — money. ‘You should paint something that everybody sees every day, that everybody recognizes... like a can of soup.’ So Warhol sent an assistant out to buy each of the 32 varieties of Campbell’s soup. He would eventually become one of the most important fine artists and cultural icons of the 20th century.
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