Andy Warhol. Campbell’s Soup Cans, 1962. Synthetic polymer paint on thirty-two canvases, Each canvas 20 x 16″ (50.8 x 40.6 cm.)
When Warhol first exhibited these Campbell’s Soup Cans in 1962, they were displayed together on shelves, like products in a grocery aisle. At the time, the Campbell’s Soup Company sold 32 soup varieties; each canvas corresponds to a different flavor. Warhol did not indicate how the canvases should be installed. At MoMA, they are arranged in rows that reflect the chronological order in which the soups were introduced. The first flavor introduced by the company was tomato, in 1897.
Campbell’s Soup Cans reproduces an object of mass consumption in the most literal sense. These paintings were silkscreened, a printmaking method originally invented for commercial use. In a semi-mechanized process, Warhol repeated the same basic soup can image on dozens of canvases. He then hand-painted or stenciled the names of the individual soup varieties. Warhol said of Campbell’s Soup, “I used to drink it. I used to have the same lunch every day, for 20 years, I guess, the same thing over and over again. Someone said my life has dominated me; I liked that idea.”