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  • 'If you want to know who Andy Warhol is, just look at my face, or at the surface of my work. It’s all there.'
    —Andy Warhol 

    Andy Warhol engaged with art in a radically unembellished way, whilst simultaneously endowing modern art history with a newfound complexity. This surprising simplicity, unburdened by traditional understandings of ‘high art’ and instead informed directly by the pedestrian everyday, is perhaps best exemplified in the Campbell’s Soup screenprints. As the most recognisable piece of Andy Warhol’s exploration of collective consciousness, they are the template through which an entire tradition of Pop Art is derived.  

     

    Since its art world debut, the series has been enshrined with myth and intrigue. While its origin-story is disputed, one famous account narrates how Warhol, feeling rejected from the art world, enlisted the help of his confidant and aspiring art dealer, Muriel Latow (1931 - 2003). Eager to help her distressed friend, Lutow suggested that he should paint ‘something you see every day and that everybody would recognise. Something like a can of Campbell’s Soup.’ The following day, Warhol (or in other versions his mother), headed to the Finast Supermarket to purchase the product — one for each flavour. Whether this account may be taken as fact or fiction remains a mystery; however, it is revelatory of the work’s sheer power in creating and directing pivotal dialogues within mass culture.

     

    Andy Warhol tracing Campbell’s Soup silkscreen, The Factory, New York City, circa 1965 © Estate of Nat Finkelstein © 2021 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Licensed by DACS, London

    For some considered to be the fundamental zeitgeist, the Campbell’s Soup series was created between 1961 and 1962. Projecting images and tracing over them allowed Warhol to reproduce nearly identical canvases. The subsequent set of screenprints, presented here, were created between 1967 and 1968. Using his technical skills in commercial art, having spent most of his early years in Manhattan drawing shoes for Glamour magazine and designing window displays in department stores, Warhol appropriated a method of production commonly used in advertising.  Screen-printing allows one to process a uniform product consistently whilst also saving time and money. The medium then necessarily informs this series, with the prints a proxy, in both content and method, for the mass-produced item.

     

    For their premier, the complete set of 32 canvases were exhibited at Irving Blum’s Los Angeles space Ferus Gallery, simulating the optics of a supermarket, by displaying the works on shelves. The show was reportedly met with mixed reviews, with some critics baffled by Warhol’s attempt at mimicking consumer culture in the pursuit of ‘high art’. Marked by controversy, Warhol’s show openly accepted and promoted consumer capitalism, engaging with this taboo and drawing it, quite literally, closer towards the realm of fine art.

     

    Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup continue to inspire and direct our collective tastes. In 2012, the Warhol Foundation partnered with the Campbell Soup Company to celebrate fifty years since the series’ debut. In line with the artist’s belief that ‘art shouldn’t be for the select few’ but for ‘the mass of the American people’, limited-edition cans of Campbell’s Condensed Tomato Soup were sold at $.75 in Target supermarkets across the United States. In all their simplicity, Warhol’s Soup Cans are a wonderful contradiction. Their medium and theme subverts the idea of the artist as an original creator. At the same time, they also served to construct the cult image of Andy Warhol, who, as it so happens, ate soup for lunch every day.  

     

    Andy Warhol with one of his Soup Cans, 1981. Image: The Denver Post (Denver Post via Getty Images) © 2021 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Licensed by DACS, London
    • Condition Report

    • Provenance

      Gift of the artist
      Private Collection
      Susan Sheehan Gallery, New York
      Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2011

    • Literature

      Frayda Feldman and Jörg Schellmann 44-53

    • Catalogue Essay

      Including Black Bean; Chicken Noodle; Tomato; Onion; Vegetable; Beef; Green Pea; Pepper Pot; Consommé; and Cream of Mushroom

    • 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 Important Contemporary Collection

120

Campbell's Soup I (F. & S. 44-53)

1968
The complete set of 10 screenprints in colours, on wove paper, with full margins, the colours bright and fresh, with original cardboard portfolio with red and white labels (stamped 'Andy Warhol' and 'Campbell's), and original cardboard inset dividers.
all I. 80.6 x 47.6 cm (31 3/4 x 18 3/4 in.)
all S. 88.9 x 58.4 cm (35 x 23 in.)
portfolio 90.2 x 64.8 cm (35 1/2 x 25 1/2 in.)

All signed in ball-point pen and stamp-numbered 129/250 on the reverse, the portfolio stamp-numbered 129/250 (there were also 26 artist's proofs lettered A-Z), published by Factory Additions, New York, all framed.

Full Cataloguing

Estimate
£600,000 - 900,000 

Sold for £1,026,800

Place Advance Bid
Contact Specialist

Rebecca Tooby-Desmond

Specialist, Head of Sale, Editions

T +44 207 318 4079

M +44 7502 417366

[email protected]

 

Robert Kennan

Head of Editions, Europe,

T +44 207 318 4075

M +44 7824 994 784

[email protected]

 

Anne Schneider-Wilson

Senior Specialist, Editions

T +44 207 318 4042

M +44 7760 864 748

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Evening & Day Editions

London Auction 14 - 15 June 2021