Photo: Wall Street Journal
If Andy Warhol is known as the leading figure in the pop art movement of the latter half of the 20th century, perhaps we could wish pop art a happy 50th birthday today.July 9 is the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Campbell’s Soup Cans exhibition being opened in Los Angeles. It was his first solo exhibition featuring 32 canvas silkscreen prints; one for each of the Campbell’s Soup flavours back in 1962.
That exhibition helped grow Warhol’s popularity and spurred the culture-driven pop art movement to really explode over the next two decades.
Marla Prather, the Curator in the Department of Modern and Contemporary Art at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York wondered how it was possible that Warhol’s breakout exhibit was “introduced to the world half a century ago.” She told Business Insider that “they are still as fresh and relevant as the year they were silkscreened.”
It was not just the pop cultural nature of the work that had the artistic world buzzing but, as Prather noted, “the radical nature of the instillation, arranged in a row like a supermarket shelf, was as prescient as almost anything Warhol dreamt up in those early crucial years.”
Building off the success of Campbell’s Soup Cans, Warhol continued to make art based on popular culture. His 1963 work Eight Elvises sold for $100 million in 2008, the highest price for any piece of art composed after 1960. Warhol made dozens of other pieces of art based on American icons like Coca-Cola, Marylin Monroe and Muhammad Ali and is considered one of the most influential artists over the last century.
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