Happy New Year! How would you like to start 2024 in a new, creative way?
Every Wednesday and Saturday, we will be posting an installment of our book, Through an Artist’s Eyes: Learning to Live Creatively offering you a pathway to art and the vision of the artist. Enabling you to develop your own inner creativity and apply it to the personal cycle of everyday living.
II. The Journey to Art
Creative Routines, part 5
Artistic Companion, Andy Warhol (1928-1987)
Andy Warhol was a founder of Pop Art, one of the “isms” of the twentieth century, recognizing that the images of popular culture, particularly advertising can be considered works of art. He understood the impact of the media too, especially television and movies, once declaring “in the future, everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes.“
The son of immigrants, Warhol rose from a working class neighborhood of Pittsburgh to become one of the most renowned artists of his time. Trained at the School of Fine Arts of Carnegie Institute of Technology, Warhol moved to New York City in his twenties, where he quickly succeeded as a leading commercial artist.
By the early 1960s, he was creating some of his famous Pop paintings and silk screens, such as the Campbell’s soup cans and portraits of Hollywood icons Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor, among others. He established “the Factory” which served as the headquarters of his artistic production including films; it also attracted numerous celebrities and art figures who attended Warhol’s often notorious parties and “happenings.”
In 1968, Warhol was shot by one of his “actors,” ending his high profile lifestyle for the rest of his career. However, Warhol continued to be a vital influence, not only upon the art scene, but the national consciousness as well. He died prematurely in 1987, at the age of fifty eight, while recovering from gall bladder surgery.
What is a Warhol?
A Warhol still startles, even shocks, after almost half a century. The bright red and white logo of Campbell’s soup dominates canvas after canvas, multiplying from one to thirty two to two hundred! Warhol painted a multitude of different kinds—chicken noodle, vegetarian vegetable, bean, and the most common of all, tomato. He depicted the Brillo soap box and the old fashioned Coca Cola bottle. now a collector’s item.
But are Warhol’s paintings truly works of art, fit to hang in a gallery or museums or someone’s private home? Or is Warhol pulling some kind of practical joke? Ultimately, perhaps he is asking the average consumer to really observe colors and designs of the items of the local grocery store —ultimately appreciating both the genius and banality of modern advertising. The decision is up to you, the viewer.
The Warhol Gallery
Vegetarian Vegetable, from Campbell’s Soup II, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Does it look good enough to open and eat? “Vegetarian Vegetable” is just one of dozens of varieties of Campbell’s Soup. What are some of their names? Chicken noodle, cream of mushroom, pepper pot, beef, onion, consommé, among others. What about the logo, the trademark representation in striking letters against a field of crisp red and white? Its label is forever imprinted in your mind: bold, streamlined, with, in this case, a special message, “the alphabet soup” on a cartoon yellow background.
Andy Warhol could not resist this symbol of advertising, turning it, along with with hundreds of other kinds of Campbell’s soup into an icon of 1960s Pop Art. Or did the image of the soup can have another meaning to Warhol? It seems that the artist had a bowl of soup, usually prepared by his mother, every day during his childhood in Pittsburgh. Perhaps this instant meal was a source of comfort and cheer, like a constant companion upon whom he could always rely, so “Vegetarian Vegetable” is not just a soup can, but the portrait of a best friend.
COMING SOON: CREATIVE ROUTINES AT HOME
Copyright 2010: Joan Hart, Museum One, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced in any form or by any electronic, mechanical or other means, now known or hereafter invented including photocopying, recording and information storage and retrieval without permission from the publisher.