July 9: Warhol’s Campbell’s

WarholSoupOn July 9, 1962 Los Angeles’ Ferus Gallery opened the first solo gallery show by an obscure commercial artist and silkscreen printer named Andy Warhol. The show consisted of 32 paintings, all of them depicting different varieties of Campbell’s soups.

Warhol’s debut exhibition was not exactly a success. For one thing, Ferus Gallery patrons were confused by the way the paintings were presented: Not hanging on the walls, but placed on shelves like soup at a grocery store. Critics were aghast at the idea of making art based on commercial objects. In fact, a rival gallery near the Ferus placed actual Campbell’s cans on a shelf as a way of mocking Warhol. However, those that loved Warhol’s paintings became his biggest supporters and it was only a matter of time before Warhol’s pop art sensibilities were embraced by the art world at large. Today the 32 paintings reside in New York’s Museum of Modern Art.

So, why soup cans? It’s said that in the early 1960s Warhol was looking for a new subject to paint. His friend Roberta Latow, a New York gallery owner, suggested he ought to paint “Something you see every day and something that everybody would recognize. Something like a can of Campbell’s Soup.” Warhol proclaimed “Oh that sounds fabulous.” and then went out and bought a case of every kind of Campbell’s soup, painting each one. When interviewed by art critic G. R. Swenson in 1963, he explained that he had a longstanding relationship with the soup brand, “I used to drink it, I used to have the same lunch every day, for twenty years.”

Naturally, there is a cocktail named for Andy Warhol, and thankfully it isn’t made with Campbell’s soup. Instead, the Andy Warhol was created by Grant Dingwall, a bartender at Cartel in Auckland, New Zealand, and is cognac based.

Andy Warhol

  • 1 1/2 ounces Cognac
  • 1/2 ounce Benedictine
  • 1/3 ounce Lillet Blanc
  • 2 dash Orange Bitters

Stir with ice and strain into a champagne saucer or coupe glass. Garnish with a flamed orange zest.

Tomorrow: Rupert Holmes asks if you’d like to have a drink.

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