Andy Warhol - Modern & Contemporary Art: Evening & Day Sale London Thursday, June 27, 2024 | Phillips
  • “Andy has fought by repetition to show us that there is no repetition really, that everything we look at is worthy of our attention. That’s been a major direction for the twentieth century, it seems to me.”
    —John Cage
    Universally recognised as one of the most significant, iconic images of the twentieth century, Campbell's Soup exemplifies the industry, ingenuity, and exceptional achievement of Andy Warhol: a contribution to artmaking that continues to hold the public imagination today. Executed in 1986,Campbell's Soup revisits the image that launched Warhol’s career, demonstrating the virtuosity, wit, and irreverence that continued to characterise the Pop artist’s visual language before his premature death a year later.

    1962: A Pivotal Year 


    The construction of serial imagery emerged soon after Warhol moved to New York at the age of twenty-one, laying the foundations for his revolutionary 1962 exhibition. Relocating to the city in 1949 after he had graduated from the Carnegie Technical Institute (now Carnegie Mellon University), Warhol initially secured a role working as a commercial illustrator. Working for clients in the fashion, television, liquor and pharmaceutical industries, Warhol became well versed in the importance of selecting direct, tantalising iconography for advertising, replicating images through ‘blotted line’ and establishing the mechanisms that would become so fundamental to his later practice. As Warhol began to serialise his work, he projected and traced a photograph by Edward Wallowitch to create the first of his near identical compositions featuring a Campbell soup can. 


    Capturing the imagination of dealer Irving Blum, after visiting Warhol’s studio in 1962 Blum resolved to mount a solo exhibition for the artist at his Ferus Gallery in Los Angeles that same summer. Installing thirty-two separate panels of all the varieties of Campbell soup then available, Warhol had radically altered the trajectory of contemporary art and unwittingly launched his meteoric rise to fame, well-established by the execution of the present Campbell's Soup.

    The Hand, Commerce, and Silkscreen


    As Warhol memorably described: ‘I used to drink it. I used to have the same lunch everyday for twenty years, I guess, the same thing over and over again.’i  In this manner, works from this series take on subtly autobiographic dimensions, the artist radically complicating the boundaries between art, commerce, and the everyday through his appropriation of the popular consumable’s branding. Installing each of the canvases on white mouldings that circulated the perimeter of Blum’s gallery, cleverly imitating the display of consumer objects in a supermarket, Warhol reconsidered the original function and meaning of the ‘banal’. Revisiting these ideas in Campbell's Soup, Warhol followed in the tradition of avant-garde artists such as Marcel Duchamp, whose Readymades challenged the critical apparatus and content of ‘high art’. Building on these provocative principles, Warhol elevated the inconspicuous and everyday elements of popular culture as a source of inspiration and as worthy subjects of postwar American art. 

    “If you take a Campbell’s soup can and repeat it fifty times you are not interested in the retinal image. What interests you is the concept that wants to put fifty Campbell’s soup cans on a canvas.”
    —Marcel Duchamp

    Following his inaugural gallery solo show dedicated to Pop paintings, Warhol developed his earlier interest in minimising the presence of the artist’s hand in the work, deploying a method that was itself used in the production of food packaging: his signature photographic silkscreen technique. Fittingly, the series to which the present work belongs was commenced after the artist was approached by Campbell’s directly, inviting him to commemorate their new ‘soup-in-a-box’ line.  In contrast to the unembellished simplicity of his original canvases, in Campbell's Soup Warhol combined the flatness of his earlier compositions with the sculptural forms of his earliest Campbell Soup Boxes. Created over twenty years later and utilising more playful, vibrant colour combinations, the canvas embodies Warhol’s careful use of colour, layering, and form to create texture and illusory depth. Flashes of yellow, green, and blue outlining the text and central image juxtapose with the more distinctive Campbell’s red and white. At the height of his technical and commercial success, in Campbell's Soup Warhol consciously underlined the increasing commoditisation of art and the significance of popular culture in art history: a career that begins and ends with Campbell’s. 


    Andy Warhol interview on Campbell’s Soup Cans 


    Collector’s Digest


    •    The pioneer of Pop Art, Andy Warhol’s use of printing as a means of reproducing and repeating images to explore art history and mass media is instantly recognisable and continues to define twenty-first century art.
    •    Blurring the boundaries between ‘commercial’ and ‘fine’ art, Warhol’s cultural ubiquity and sheer, inescapable fame is reflected through his presence in the most significant collections globally and his range of solo exhibitions at the Tate Modern, London; the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Centre Pompidou, Paris. 
    •    In accordance with his will, the artist established the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. Among the Foundation’s projects, the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh remains the largest museum dedicated to a single artist in North America.



    i Andy Warhol, quoted in Benjamin Buchloh, ‘Andy Warhol’s One-Dimensional Art: 1956-1966’, Andy Warhol: A Retrospective, exh. cat., New York, 1989, p. 55.

    • Provenance

      Galerie Hans Mayer, Düsseldorf ​
      Onnasch Collection, Berlin ​
      Sotheby's, London, 6 February 2003, Lot 37
      Acquired at the above sale by the present owner

    • Exhibited

      Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona; Porto, Museu de Arte Contemporanea Serralves, The Onnasch Collection: Aspects of Contemporary Art, 7 November 2001–23 June 2002, p. 201 (illustrated, p. 119, titled as Campbell's Soup (III, Golden on Red))

    • Literature

      Bernhard Kerber, Bestände Onnasch, Berlin and Bremen, 1992, p. 295 (illustrated, p. 73, erroneously dated, 1985)

    • 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 of a Renowned Private Collection


Campbell's Soup

signed and dated 'Andy Warhol 86' on the overlap
acrylic and silkscreen ink on canvas
182.9 x 152.4 cm (72 x 60 in.)
Executed in 1986.

Full Cataloguing

£450,000 - 650,000 

Sold for £850,900

Contact Specialist

Louise Simpson
Associate Specialist
+44 7887 473 568

Modern & Contemporary Art: Evening & Day Sale

London Auction 27 June 2024