This article combines three of my most favourite things: cans, history and art! When I was at university, the impact of the invention of canned food for society were more often part of the classes than you might think. The history of canned food is full of many exciting and inspirational narratives. And because we love cans, we want to present to you one of the most famous cans ever, the Campbell’s Soup Can and of course the same named masterpiece of Andy Warhol. Get ready for a cantastic history lesson!
Give Me the Campbell Life
It all began back in 1869 when Joseph A. Campbell, a merchant, and Abraham Anderson, an icebox manufacturer, got together to produce canned tomatoes, vegetables, soups and minced meat. Only 8 years later Anderson left the partnership and Campbell changed the name of the company to Joseph A. Campbell Preserve Company. In the following decades, Campbell’s became one of the biggest food companies in the world and their cans belong to these products, nearly everyone on this planet knows. Today it’s a global company selling not only lots of canned food but also many other products and a wide portfolio from sub brands.
Andy Warhol and the Famous 32 Soup Cans
One major reason for the popularity of Campbell’s cans is surely the famous artwork from Andy Warhol. In 1962, he painted 32 different sorts of Campbell’s Soup Cans on 32 canvasses, creating one of the most iconic artworks ever. He later said, his inspiration came from Roy Lichtenstein, whose comic-strip paintings were displayed at the Leo Castelli Gallery just some months before finishing his own masterpiece. During the search for subjects to paint, a friend told him to use something everybody would remember, just like Campbell’s cans. This advice affected Warhol to buy some cans in a flash of inspiration to study them. Only some weeks later the exhibition of these 32 paintings of canned soups caused sensation in Los Angeles. Remarkable was that the artwork was first seen as 32 individual paintings, leading to the problem, that five of them were sold very fast. As Warhol recognized that the 32 canvasses would perfectly work as one big piece of art, he had to buy back these five, including one from actor Dennis Hopper, who is famous for his roles in “Easy Rider” and “Apocalypse Now”. Through the creation of Campbell’s 32 soup cans Warhol set a milestone for creating works in series: After his first approach it became the trademark of his works. After his death the full set of all 32 was sold for more than 15 million dollar, to the Museum of Modern Art in New York, where you can still see it today.
Do you like the artworks of Andy Warhol, especially the 32 cans? Are there other cool can artists we have to present on our blog? Leave us a comment below!