Andy Warhol - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale New York Wednesday, May 18, 2022 | Phillips
  • "What made Andy’s boxes art, while their real‐life counterparts were simply utilitarian containers, with no claim to the status of art at all? The question,‘What is art?’ had been part of philosophy since the time of Plato. But Andy forced us to rethink the question in an entirely new way."
    —Arthur Danto

    Emerging from Andy Warhol’s first important enterprise at the Factory, the present set of three Campbell’s Tomato Juice boxes belongs to the artist’s early box sculptures that came to define Pop art. Between March and April of 1964, Warhol executed about 100 iterations of his Campbell’s Tomato Juice Box, replicating the cardboard packaging used to ship the consumer staple that became Warhol’s most iconic subject. At once facsimile and original, the present sculptures situate themselves between Marcel Duchamp’s readymades and the hand-crafted qualities of Jasper Johns’ sculptural ale cans. Alongside six other branded box sculptures he produced, the Campbell’s Tomato Juice Box series was presented at the artist’s groundbreaking exhibition at the Stable Gallery, New York in April that year.



    Jasper Johns, Ale Cans, 1960. Museum Ludwig, Cologne. Image: bpk Bildagentur / Museum Ludwig, Cologne / Art Resource, NY, Artwork: © 2022 Jasper Johns / Licensed by VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York


    The seeds of Warhol’s box sculptures were laid in early 1962 when he created a three-dimensional version of his serial Campbell’s Soup Can paintings. In November 1963, after Warhol expressed to John Weber from Dawn Gallery the possibility of advancing his soup can sculptures into sculptures of their packaging in which they arrive at supermarkets, Weber exclaimed, “Your idea of making cardboard boxes is sensational!i” Over the course of the next five months, Warhol produced seven series of Campbell’s Tomato Juice, Heinz Tomato Ketchup, Kellogg’s Corn Flakes, Del Monte Peaches, Mott’s Apple Sauce, and two types of Brillo packaging in anticipation of his Stable Gallery exhibition. Upon the show’s opening, eager visitors lined up outside as attendees wriggled their way through the small rooms packed with Warhol’s boxes. As critic Lawrence Campbell described of the show, “Andy Warhol is the most extreme of the Pop artists, and his shows are invariably more interesting as ideas…There was a curious effect on the gallery; it became the storage room of an A&P. And the A&P became an art gallery—one found oneself avoiding the cartons as though they had suddenly become valuable.”ii 



    Warhol’s Campbell’s Tomato Juice Box sculptures at the Stable gallery opening in New York, 1964. Image: © Ken Heyman, Artwork: © 2022 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Licensed by Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

    "Paintings are too hard. The things I want to show are mechanical. Machines have less problems. I’d like to be a machine, wouldn’t you?"
    —Andy Warhol

    The box sculptures marked the first major series produced at the artist’s revolutionary studio, the Factory on East 47th Street in Manhattan which he had just set up earlier that year. Georg Frei and Neil Printz noted in the artist’s catalogue raisonné that the rows of boxes “suggest[ed] an assembly line. Indeed, considering the quantity of their works, their typology as package, and the mode of their production, the box sculptures…seem to provide the probable context in which Warhol’s studio first came to be known as The Factory.”iii A perfect embodiment of this observation, the present set of three boxes reflects how Warhol’s fascination with factory-produced objects resulted in the conception of his Silver Factory, where his artistic process of producing dozens at a time in an assembly line mirrored the mass manufacturing of consumer goods. As Warhol’s assistant Gerard Malanga recalled, “Andy was fascinated by the shelves of foodstuffs in supermarkets and the repetitive, machine-like effect they created.”iv



    Andy Warhol stands amid his Campbell's Tomato Juice Box installation at the Stable Gallery, New York, 1964. Image: Fred W. McDarrah/MUUS Collection via Getty Images, Artwork: © 2022 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Licensed by Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York


    As hand-crafted facsimiles, Warhol’s box sculptures are both exact copies of their real-life counterparts and products of his own creation. Unlike Duchamp’s readymades, Warhol’s boxes were not objects found, but built. As the artist found cardboard unfeasible to work with, he hired carpenters to build plywood boxes that maintained the exact specifications of the actual cardboard packaging. Laying out stretches of brown paper on the studio floor, Warhol and Malanga then painted the backgrounds—in this case, yellow—and silkscreened the sides of the wooden boxes. Completing at least two sides a day and ultimately over a hundred sculptures within a month’s time, the speed of their screening process gave way to painterly drips and splatters, Duchampian chance slippages in the “manufacturing” process. In Arthur Danto’s words, “For Warhol these mistakes were part of the process. So he never edited anything out. And these two qualities—unedited but mechanically reproduced—became part of the Warhol aesthetic, whatever the medium he might work in.”v  





    i John Weber, quoted in Georg Frei and Neil Printz, eds., The Andy Warhol Catalogue Raisonné of Paintings and Sculptures, 1964-1969, vol. 2A, New York, 2004, p. 53.

    ii Lawrence Campbell, “Andy Warhol,” Art News, vol. 63, no. 4 (Summer 1964), p. 16.
    iii Georg Frei and Neil Printz, eds., The Andy Warhol Catalogue Raisonné of Paintings and Sculptures, 1964-1969, vol. 2A, New York, 2004, p. 54.
    iv Gerard Malanga, Archiving Warhol: Writings and Photographs, New York, 2002, p. 94.
    v Arthur Danto, Andy Warhol, New Haven, 2009, p. 60.

    • Provenance

      The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc., New York
      Gagosian Gallery, New York (sold via Christie's Private Sale)
      Acquired from the above by the present owner

    • Literature

      Georg Frei and Neil Printz, eds., The Andy Warhol Catalogue Raisonné of Paintings and Sculptures, 1964-1969, Vol. 2A, New York, 2004, nos. 862-864, pp. 53-55, 57, 95 (another example illustrated, p. 92; installation views of other examples illustrated, pp. 66, 67, 93)

    • Artist Biography

      Andy Warhol

      American • 1928 - 1987

      Andy Warhol was the leading exponent of the Pop Art movement in the U.S. in the 1960s. Following an early career as a commercial illustrator, Warhol achieved fame with his revolutionary series of silkscreened prints and paintings of familiar objects, such as Campbell's soup tins, and celebrities, such as Marilyn Monroe. Obsessed with popular culture, celebrity and advertising, Warhol created his slick, seemingly mass-produced images of everyday subject matter from his famed Factory studio in New York City. His use of mechanical methods of reproduction, notably the commercial technique of silk screening, wholly revolutionized art-making.

      Working as an artist, but also director and producer, Warhol produced a number of avant-garde films in addition to managing the experimental rock band The Velvet Underground and founding Interview magazine. A central figure in the New York art scene until his untimely death in 1987, Warhol was notably also a mentor to such artists as Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat.


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Property from an East Coast Private Collection


Three works: (i-iii) Campbell's Tomato Juice Box

each stamped by the Estate of Andy Warhol and respectively numbered "[SC 12.003, SC 12.004, SC 12.005]" on the underside
silkscreen ink and house paint on plywood
(i, iii) 10 x 19 x 9 1/2 in. (25.4 x 48.3 x 24.1 cm)
(ii) 10 x 19 x 9 3/8 in. (25.4 x 48.3 x 23.8 cm)

Executed in 1964.

Full Cataloguing

$700,000 - 900,000 

Sold for $1,058,500

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20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

New York Auction 18 May 2022