What Andy Warhol's 'Campbell's Soup Cans' Teaches Us About Consumerism

What Andy Warhol's 'Campbell's Soup Cans' Teaches Us About Consumerism

How 32 cans became immortal.

Andy Warhol (1928-1987) was the epitome of an artist; he could transform anything and dabbled in a variety of techniques. A pivotal figure to the Pop Art movement, his work of art "Campbell’s Soup Cans" produced in 1962, extends beyond his resume to contemporary approaches of defining art and an attack on the vapid consumerist culture ravaging America.

Pop Art has laid its claim and become renowned for borrowing from other styles, artists, and countries. Embedded was a message that originality is dead and what we do now is but a mere replica of a distant form. Rather than reject this, people should come to terms with the reality of things, fashion, and art itself.

The 1960s movement proclaims that art can still be made, but to be self-aware and look to abandoned preconceived ideas of what constitutes an unconventional form for a canvas. It's a departure from longstanding traditions of what to represent or what can be a still-life model.

Warhol famously declared, “Everyone is an artist.” He stood true to his claims and rallied for others to create art from popular culture. Like-minded individuals adhered and followed suit. Cropping, manipulating color, distorting its transparency and other changes to a base advertisement took exhibits by storm. Warhol reproduced and contritely replicated an ordinary object recognizable to shoppers.

"Campbell’s Soup Cans" would find its debut on July 9, 1962, in the Los Angeles Gallery entitled Ferus. Each can has its own 20" x 16" canvas placed in close proximity to the other. First displayed on the wall like a painting, they hung just above shelves as a tribute to its real-life existence in a grocery store.

The number 32 is symbolic, stemming from the namesake company – Campbell’s Soup – who sold 32 soup flavors. Warhol refused the idea of selling each piece off, a surprising choice in a market where profit could be found in 32 sales. This would then be considered Warhol's official entrance into the Pop Art movement.

Instructions did not go further. Warhol did not indicate the artwork's procession. Often in art, rigid formulaic instructions are left behind to have everything in prestige place. It was Warhol's way of saying that art needed to change its approaches to things are done. Instead, the curators took the initiative and arranged them in row order of the date of each can's release. Its tomato can from 1987 would have the honor of kicking it off.

"Campbell’s Soup Cans" is a precursor to Warhol's later acclaimed style. Here, they have the look of being mass-produced from a hardworking printing machine up to its brim. But in fact, each image is hand-painted with a synthetic polymer. Warhol wanted to convey the look of them being fake to keep his vision churning.

The cans did have subtle variations, with its front product labels stating its flavor to spice things up. Nevertheless, they are identical to each other with a quick panning glance turning them into the exact same being. Upon release, criticism and parodies were spawned by the general public. Warhol's piece was dubbed a flop.

Outrage has formed, something not unknown to avant-garde artists. Calling for a decline in art academics and the critic circle alike, "Campbell’s Soup Cans" was seen as an intrusive force to the established longstanding world of art. There were standards expected to be held of what a painting was and meant. Warhol quintessentially bridges the idea that making art is equivalent to picking out a can of soup and deciding to eat it.

Another point of interest to the reactions is that this piece has no demographics, instead, it is made for everyone. This runs in contrast to other traditions, where audiences were narrowed down to recognize certain iconography or historical context. Here, anybody can read Warhol's paintings.

That is not to say Warhol's effort was as mindless as conscious consumption. In many ways, he is reflected in the cans. Warhol once said, “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.” The repetition of his life is the same as the mundane patterns others engage in. "Campbell’s Soup Cans" grants him permission to grapple with himself.

Highlighting the disposability of items and inaneness in what gets deemed important via trendsetting movements, it became entangled in that. Ironically, the cans generated consumerist cult status and high-end fashion pieces dedicated to them. Can dresses were worn by the elite at the finest dinner parties and were seen on the biggest runways. Now, its influence is far-reaching and source material for rejecting high art.

Cover Image Credit: Lauren Manning / Flickr

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What Your Hogwarts House Says About You

Get yourself sorted and find out where you belong in the world of witchcraft and wizardry.

Sorting at Hogwarts is a big deal. Being sorted into a house is essentially being placed into a family while you are away from home learning about witchcraft and wizardry. Your house is made up of the people you will live with, go to classes with, play Quidditch with and everything in between. You basically spend 24/7 with them. Your Hogwarts house is your home away from home.

When you get sorted into a house, it is based on your personality traits. The people in your house are typically like-minded people who display the same characteristics as you.

When you’re a first year at Hogwarts, the minute you set foot in the castle you are swept into the Great Hall to have the ancient Sorting Hat placed on your head. This Sorting Hat decides which “family” you’ll be spending your seven years with.

For some, it is very obvious which house they will be in, due to certain personality traits they possess. For others, they may exemplify traits that fit a multitude of houses and are uncertain where they may end up.

To find out where you belong, you can take the official "Harry Potter" Sorting Hat quiz at Pottermore.com. For all you muggles out there, these are the characteristics that the houses possess and what your house says about you:

Gryffindor: The house of the brave, loyal, courageous, adventurous, daring and chivalrous. Those who stand up for others are typically Gryffindors. Brave-hearted is the most well-known Gryffindor characteristic, and Gryffindors are also known for having a lot of nerve.

Gryffindors are people who hold a multitude of qualities alongside the ones listed, making them a very well-rounded house. People who are Gryffindors are often people who could fit nicely into another house but choose to tell the sorting hat they want Gryffindor (there's that bravery). "Do what is right" is the motto Gryffindors go by.

Being a Gryffindor means that you're probably the adventurous and courageous friend, and you are usually known for doing what is right.

Ravenclaw: The house is known for their wisdom, intelligence, creativity, cleverness and knowledge. Those who value brains over brawn can be found here. Ravenclaws often tend to be quite quirky as well. "Do what is wise" is the motto they strive to follow.

Though Ravenclaws can be know-it-alls sometimes, they most likely do know what the wisest decision is.

If you are known for being the quirky friend, the smartest in the group or just great at making wise decisions, you're definitely a Ravenclaw.

Hufflepuff: This house values hard work, dedication, fair play, patience, and loyalty. Hufflepuff’s are known for being just and true. "Do what is nice" is their motto.

Hufflepuff is known as the “nice house” and believes strongly in sparing peoples feelings and being kind. This is not to say that Hufflepuffs aren't smart or courageous. Hufflepuffs just enjoy making others happy and tend to be more patient towards people.

If you ever find that you are too nice for your own good and cannot bear to hurt someone’s feelings, congratulations, you are a Hufflepuff.

Slytherin: This is the house of the cunning, prideful, resourceful, ambitious, intelligent, and determined. Slytherin's love to be in charge and crave leadership. "Do what is necessary" is the motto of this house.

Slytherin is a fairly well-rounded house, similar to the other houses. They are loyal to those that are loyal to them just as Gryffindors are and are intelligent as Ravenclaws.

Slytherin house as a whole is not evil, despite how many dark wizards come out of this house. That is merely based on the choices of those wizards (so if your friend is a Slytherin, don’t judge, it doesn’t mean they are mean people). Slytherins do, however, have a tendency to be arrogant or prideful. This is most likely due to the fact that everyone in Slytherin is exceedingly proud to be there.

What Hogwarts house you’re in says a lot about the person you are, the traits you possess and how you may act in some situations. But in the end, your house is really just your home that is always there for you. Always.

Cover Image Credit: Warner Bros Pictures

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Things To Do When You're So Bored All You Want To Do Is Cry

Do something artsy


Everyone has times when they have nothing to do and boredom strikes way too hard. From experience, I have found some top things to do when you literally have nothing else to do!

1. Clean

Not super fun, but will keep you busy.

2. Netflix

Find a new show to binge watch. Watched them all? Rewatch something you haven't seen in a while!

3. Shopping

Retail therapy can always keep you busy.

4. Make a home cooked meal

Spend some time in the kitchen and make something yummy! Even invite some friends.

5. Visit friends/ family

Pop in on some people you care about that you haven't seen in a while!

6. Write

Writing is something we all do and is a great way to express ourselves!

7. Exercise

Hit the gym or go for walk, do something to keep you nice and fit.

8. Volunteer

Go to an animal shelter, food bank, museums, or anywhere in your area that needs help.

9. Look for a job

If you're bored, maybe getting a part time job will keep you a little occupied. Plus it's extra money in your pocket.

10. Draw/ do something artsy

Even if you think you're a bad artist, drawing is something fun to do! You'll get better in time.

11. Join an Odyssey Team!

Writing articles through the Odyssey is an amazing experience and can always keep you busy!

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