Andy Warhol is one of the most admired and widely discussed artists that worked in the genre of pop art. Warhol is often called a controversial artist, he once emphasized that the viewers never need to look deeper than the surface evaluating his art works. The artist meant that his works speak for themselves and their symbolism is right on the surface, so one must not look for hidden meanings or “read between the lines”.
Andy Warhol’s Pop Art
Andy Warhol’s “Campbell’s Soup Cans” is an artwork that consists of thirty two separate pieces. Each piece has just one image, which is a close up picture of a Campbell soup can, each of the pieces depicts different soup, which is marked in the labels on the cans. The work first appeared in 1962, at that time Campbell Soup Company had thirty two product flavors in total. Warhol turned each of them into a pop art work.
When this work was exhibited for the first time in Los Angeles, all the thirty two pictures were set in a row on the shelves as if they were actual goods in a grocery store (Campbell’s Soup Cans par 2). Currently all of the pieces of the work are kept at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. They are currently arranged chronologically according to the release dates of each of the soup flavors presented by the artist.
This art work represents the classics of the genre of pop art. First of all it is a mechanical repetitive pattern. Secondly, for this work Andy Warhol took a brand name and a label and presented it as an art piece. Finally, the artist created a modular series created by means of silk screening, which adds to the technical side to the art work making it even more modern (Andy Warhol. Campbell’s Soup Cans par. 4).
Taking a mundane object and turning it into an art work, Warhol suggested looking differently at this object, seeing more than just an advertisement in this repetitive pattern (Why is this art? Andy Warhol, Campbell’s Soup Cans par. 1).Warhol pointed out that mass production and consumption are significant parts of the modern culture (Pop Art- the art of popular culture par. 1).
Pop art as a genre occurred in the United States and Britain in 1950s and 1960s. The art was a revolt against the classical standards in art, the orthodoxies. For the first time art was focused on objects of popular culture such as movies, celebrities, comics and goods (Pop art par. 3). It was meant to combine the most unexpected items and present them as pieces of art. The critics of that time and today agree that using what was called a low subject matter was the point of pop art.
Creating a combination of the most unexpected items was the main point of pop art. Combining fiction with visual art and with poetry seems rather unconventional, which makes it potentially suitable subject for pop art. Putting verbal art into a picture is not an orthodoxy practice, yet it was not a frequently used combination in pop art. A poem could help explain the meaning of the image or it could be completely logically unrelated to the visual part of the art work.
One of the main focuses of pop art genre was to present the audience with a lot of unspoken concepts, presenting silent objects arranged in a certain pattern or just scattered in the canvas. The only words present in pop art works are the labels as in Warhol’s “Campbell’s Soup Cans” or short interjections such as “Wham!” or “Wroom!” that can be found in the pages comic books. Specific poetry has not been a part of pop art, probably, due to its explanatory function which was widely rejected in pop art.
Poetry as a part of art works would be likely to turn pop art into postmodernism and add depth to the subject matter of the art work which was uncommon in pop art. This genre stands for the simplicity, repetition, mass production and mass culture. Poetry has never been mass culture, so adding it to pop art would go against the main concept of the genre.
Traditional pop art scene is not supposed to include explanations, addresses, messages, and poem is all of these things. Besides, poetry clashes with the typical items and focuses of pop art which are supposed to be plain and simple such as vacuum cleaners, celebrity posters or soup cans.
Since poetry is not a product of mass consumption, it was not included into pop art pieces. Even though it would create an even bigger difference between the orthodoxies of art and pop art, it went against the themes explored in pop art. The pictures of this genre were not supposed to talk to their audience, just like goods on the supermarket shelves do not talk to the consumers. A combination of poetry and visual images is certainly a kind of art but it is not pop art.
Andy Warhol. Campbell’s Soup Cans. MoMa. 2014. Web.
Campbell’s Soup Cans. MoMA Learning. Web.
Pop art. Tate. Web.
Pop Art– the art of popular culture. ArtyFactory. 2014. Web.
Why is this art? Andy Warhol, Campbell’s Soup Cans. Khan Academy. 2014. Web.