66
66
Andy Warhol
CAMPBELL'S SOUP I
Estimate
300,000400,000
LOT SOLD. 783,000 GBP
JUMP TO LOT
66
Andy Warhol
CAMPBELL'S SOUP I
Estimate
300,000400,000
LOT SOLD. 783,000 GBP
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Contemporary Art Evening Auction

|
London

Andy Warhol
1928 - 1987
CAMPBELL'S SOUP I
each: signed in ball-point pen, stamp-numbered 124/250 on the reverse, published by Factory Additions, New York
the complete set, comprising 10 screenprints in colours on paper
each: 88.9 by 58.4 cm. 35 by 23 in.
Executed in 1968, this work is number 124 from an edition of 250, plus 26 artist's proofs.
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Provenance

Locksley Shea Gallery, Minneapolis
Sotheby's, New York, 12 November 2014, Lot 261
Acquired from the above by the present owner

Literature

Frayda Feldman and Jörg Schellmann, Andy Warhol Prints: A Catalogue Raisonné 1962-1987, New York, 2003, pp. 68-69, no. II.44-53, another example illustrated in colour

Catalogue Note

“In the most intensive way, as the vehicle for an ensemble of expressions, Warhol chose the Campbell’s soup cans. In the wide range of Warhol’s motifs, he never exploited another object with such fervour. For Warhol, the soup can was what the Mont Sainte-Victoire was for Cézanne: an inexhaustible well from which he could draw his aesthetic repertory, his theory of perception, and his artistic concept. And in this group of pictures, the name Andy Warhol forges an unbreakable link with a new artistic attitude that flashed around the world with as much name recognition as the products he depicted without representing: Pop art.”

Rainer Crone and Petrus Graf Schaesberg, ‘The Three Golden Rules of an Artist’ in: Exh. Cat., New York, Gagosian Gallery, Pop Art: The John and Kimiko Powers Collection, 2001, p. 89.

Warhol began creating portrait-style paintings of Campbell’s Soup cans in 1961. The artist famously declared that a daily, banal habit had motivated his choice of an equally prosaic subject: “I used to drink it. I used to have the same lunch every day, for twenty years, I guess, the same thing over and over again. Someone said my life has dominated me; I liked that idea” (Andy Warhol, quoted in: Kenneth Goldsmith, I’ll Be Your Mirror: The Selected Andy Warhol Interviews, Boston, 2004, p. 18).

The Campbell’s Soup paintings were first exhibited by the visionary art dealer Irving Blum at Ferus Gallery, Los Angeles, in 1962. The exhibition consisted of 32 works– a quantity prescribed by the company’s current product line –displayed in a single line on the gallery walls along grocery store shelving. The show caused an immediate furore in the local art scene – a neighbouring gallery owner, David Stuart, reacted by buying and displaying actual cans of Campbell’s Soup that were accompanied by an invitation to purchase them more cheaply with him – yet it was soon considered to be a pivotal moment, not only in Warhol’s career, but in the development of the then nascent movement of Pop art.

Warhol reinterpreted the soup cans in a portfolio of ten screenprints in 1968. This format and method of production served to refine and emphasise the key objectives behind the 1962 works: to create a seemingly impersonal and mechanised aesthetic in order to question artistic subjectivity; and to use repetition and slight variation to highlight qualities of ubiquity, monotony and abundance in everyday visual culture.   

Though each portfolio of ten was published as a single work of art, they have frequently been disassembled over the years. Interestingly, the paintings followed an inverse trajectory. They were originally conceived as individual works, which, accordingly, the gallery began selling separately. However, over the course of the exhibition, Blum became increasingly aware of the collective impact of the works. He therefore persuaded the collectors to whom a handful of the works had been promised that the works should stay together, before purchasing all 32 canvases for his private collection.

Kirk Varnedoe, who later led the initiative to acquire the paintings for the Museum of Modern Art, explains the significance of Blum’s move: “The exhibition was a special event, where the whole was something more than the sum of its parts. Blum was right to see that event – the big stunt, the wholesale advertisement for the retail sales—as a superior creation, with meaning in its mass effect” (Kirk Varnedoe, ‘Campbell’s Soup Cans, 1962’ in Exh. Cat., London, Tate, Andy Warhol Retrospective, 2002, p. 41).

Varnedoe called this mass effect “the array”, and it is precisely this array that one can revel in when viewing the complete portfolio of Campbell’s Soup I. Here, much more effectively than the individual works are able, the group imposes itself on the viewer who must take in its uniformity and variety simultaneously.

Decades after its inception, Varnedoe endeavoured to capture the experience of looking at and thinking about “the array”: it is a “pleasure of exacerbated and lingering uncertainties… No summation or paraphrase anyone will ever write of it, nor any theoretical web to be spun around it, is ever even remotely likely to be anything like the panoply of things it effortlessly is all at once: hot, cold, heartless, funny, lively, boring, sad, outrageous, economical, memorable, vicious, stupid, sophisticated, crass and more” (Ibid., p. 45).

Contemporary Art Evening Auction

|
London