Galerie Hans Meyer, Düsseldorf
Greenberg Gallery, St. Louis
Private Collection, St. Louis
Sotheby's, New York, November 18, 1998, lot 334
James Goodman Gallery, New York
Halcyon Gallery, London
Sotheby's, London, October 14, 2006, lot 30
Acquired by the present owner from the above sale
Kyungsangbuk-do, Korea, Sonje Museum of Contemporary Art and the National Museum of Contemporary Art, Warhol & Basquiat, 1991
New York, O'Hara Gallery, The Popular Image: Pop Art in America, 1995, p. 47, illustrated in color
Throughout his extensive and famed career, Andy Warhol perpetually devised creative ways to give new meaning to his favorite and frequently revisited motifs. By the mid 1980s, his Campbell's Soup paintings had become as universally recognized as the product itself. With Campbell's Soup, 1985, Warhol once again returned to the iconic brand he had made his own more than twenty years earlier and created a series of monumental canvases, which visually flattened the cardboard soup box, emphasizing the absolute flatness he had sought and continually refined throughout his career. The resulting paintings are late masterpieces which rank amongst the most complex, symbolic and technically assured of his career.
Warhol had first used Campbell's Soup as a subject for his art in early 1962 and continued to revisit the theme in different forms throughout his career. The first paintings though seemingly in the flat, machinated style of modern printing techniques were actually realized entirely by hand, stamps and stencils. The series of thirty-two Campbell's Soup flavors was first shown at the sensational and well received 1962 Ferus Gallery exhibition. Years later, the revisitation of the iconic Campbell's Soup motif provides a reverential nod to his own early success and established status. The return to this theme can be interpreted as an allegorical self-portrait in which Warhol combines the disparate concerns of consumerism, appropriation, superficiality and identity that drove his career.
Executed more than twenty years after his first foray with the Campbell's brand, the present work exemplifies Warhol's perfected silkscreen aesthetic. Assertively flat and removed of extraneous, hand-painted excess, the entire image is created from carefully registered layers of color. Here, Warhol employs subtle variations in tone and outline with each screen layer, creating a sense of illusory depth that he juxtaposes against the flatness of the surface, media application and the soup box image. This visual tension further enhances the monumental grandeur and iconic status of the motif, while its layered construction alludes to the numerous meanings associated with it at this late stage in his career.
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