Pop Culture

Soup as Art; Art as Soup

To mark the 50th anniversary of Andy Warhol’s famed “32 Campbell’s Soup Cans” painting, the soup company has just released a limited run of pop art soup cans in select Target stores around the country. The commemorative packaging is a collaboration of the Campbell’s Global Design team and the Andy Warhol Foundation.

Warhol, who died in 1987, had an eye for what was iconic in American culture, albeit a soup can, Brillo box, Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley, or Mao Tse Tung. The founder of the Pop Art Movement, Warhol began his career as a commercial illustrator, then manipulated our view of everyday objects so we could appreciate them as high art.

Warhol first exhibited his Campbell’s Soup Cans in 1962, resting each of the 32 canvasses on a shelf as if it was in a supermarket. Warhol says he painted 32 cans because that was how many varieties of soup that Campbell’s made at the time. Although Warhol says he got the list of flavors from Campbell’s, the company did not commission the paintings and cautiously awaited public response to see if legal action was called for. Warhol’s inspiration may likely have come from the fact that he ate Campbell’s soup for lunch every day for about 20 years. In terms of brand recognition, Warhol’s paintings were a windfall marketing gift to the company. The cans themselves are now viewed as the emblem of Pop Art and are among the most recognizable package designs in the world.

In issuing a 50th anniversary set of Campbell’s soup cans in Warhol’s eye-popping saturated colors, the company is returning the favor by turning Warhol’s art back into soup.