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Campbell's soup cans get a touch of Warhol, Pitsburgh pop-art

By Haldan Kirsch
On September 6, 2012

  • The Warhol edition Campbell's soup cans are now on sale at Target. Fred Blauth / Photo Editor

Andy Warhol fans can pick up a piece of the artist's legacy through September as Campbell's soup helps to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Warhol's first major exhibition by releasing pop-art themed cans of their tomato soup.

At most Target locations nationwide Campbell's will be releasing tomato soup cans with four different and unique pop-art themed labels, according to a news release from Campbell's. The cans feature striking two-tone labels, with combinations such as pink and teal, and orange and blue. The designs are meant to reflect Warhol's pop-art style, the company said.  

"We are delighted to mark the 50th anniversary year of Warhol's first soup can show in L.A. with such a unique and exciting project," said Michael Hermann, the director of licensing for the Andy Warhol Foundation, in an e-mail to The Duke.

At Warhol's first solo exhibition he first displayed the famous work, 32 Campbell's Soup Cans. The work showcased 32 enlarged canvas paintings of varieties of Campbell's soup cans. The canvases displayed the different cans along side one another, resembling cans of soup on a grocery store shelf. Though the original work was not commissioned by Campbell's Soup, the company would go on to commission and purchase several other original works in 1985 and 1993 done by the Pittsburgh-born artist. Campbell's requested Warhol to paint the packages to their Quality Dry Soup Mixes in 1985; a work that doubled as a pop-art portrait and the launch of a new product line for Campbell's, according to the company.

In 1993 the company purchased the original canvas of the tomato soup can to be displayed in the Campbell's headquarters office in Camden, N.J., the company said.

This event will be the third time in the last decade that Campbell's will be releasing limited edition labels to celebrate Warhol's career. In 2004, the company held a limited release of special edition cans as a Giant Eagle store promotion in the Pittsburgh area. They also released limited edition soup can labels to coincide with the Barney's "Andy War-holidays" event in holiday 2006, the company said.

Art experts said Warhol was influenced by popular culture as part of his inspiration.

"I think that one of Warhol's many masterstrokes was the feedback loop he managed to construct between his artwork and popular culture at large," said Nicholas Chambers, the Milton Fine Curator of Art at the Warhol Museum. "That it continues to function 25 years after his death is an extraordinary testament to his legacy and one can only imagine Andy approving wholeheartedly."

Pittsburgh, Warhol's first home, continues to honor the artist's through the Andy Warhol Museum, located on the North Shore. The city also named the Seventh Street Bridge, linking Downtown to the North Shore, after him.

Another active piece of Warhol's legacy is the Warhol Foundation. The foundation is a non-profit charity set up in accordance with Warhol's will that is meant to further the advancement of the visual arts, according to Hermann. The foundation was started in 1987 and has distributed nearly $250 million in grants to further art, according to Campbell's.

"I can proudly say that revenue from projects such as this contributes to the Foundation's endowment from which it distributes grants," said Hermann.

Fans of Warhol can find the commemorative labels at most locations throughout September. They are also encouraged to have their 15 minutes of pop-art fame by visiting http://artofsoup.com. There visitors can find the pop art photo application, and have their Facebook photo converted into a Warhol-inspired work of art, Campbell's said.

"What continues to amaze me is that 25 years after his death Warhol continues to have a profound influence on our culture. For me, this is the true testament to his genius," Hermann said.
 


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