Campbell’s Soup (and Other Everyday Items)
Obviously, I did not pay attention in my art history classes in college. Truthfully, I would fall asleep because the instructor would turn the lights out and show slides while she talked. So as I stood in the art museum many years ago gazing at a Warhol Campbell’s Soup Can artwork, admiring the fact that it was impressive in person with it’s bright colors and large size, I remember thinking – why? Why did he choose a soup can to make some art?
Thankfully, since I was a lousy art history student, I have my time capsules to fill in the blanks. It just so happens that I had pulled a magic marker drawing from one of my boxes only a couple weeks before reading the Andy Warhol book. It has always been one of my favorite childhood drawings and I was contemplating using the idea on some graphics.
While reading the Warhol book and noticing I had drawn some of the same subjects on my childhood drawings, I realized why (and what POP art is all about). When I had done that drawing at the age of eight or nine, I was just looking for something, anything really, to reproduce on paper with my colorful magic markers. These were items sitting in our house! They were familiar to me. And like Andy and other pop artists, I thought they made perfectly good art subjects.
For those of you who slept through art history as I did…
The Pop Art movement, so named because the artist portrayed objects from popular culture and everyday life. Pop Art should be seen in the context of the social changes of the 1960s. The “conspicuous consumption” of mass produced objects in the American society was the object of much scrutiny. While the hippie culture rejected such a society and tried to form an alternate lifestyle, Pop artists embraced consumerism and drew inspiration from it. If products like Coke, soup and Brillo pads were so important to the American public in their daily lives, why shouldn’t they be the subject of art as well, these artists asked.