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Peter’s Auction Pick of the Day: Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup I Portfolio

May 12, 2015

 

Los Angeles Modern Auctions is pleased to offer Andy Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup I, a 1968 limited edition portfolio of ten silkscreen prints on paper, at the May 17 Modern Art & Design Auction. Campbell’s Soup I is a major work in the Andy Warhol canon.

Andy Warhol, Campbell’s Soup I, 1968

Lot 180, Andy Warhol, Campbell’s Soup I, (the complete suite of ten screenprints on paper), 1968
May 17, 2015 Modern Art & Design Auction

The images here are defining emblems of Warhol’s artistry–icons of pop art–and arguably among the most famous in all postwar art. In these prints, Warhol returned to the subject of his first solo show as an artist and to that which made his name: Campbell’s Soup Cans, a group of 32 silkscreened paintings on canvas with hand-lettering (now in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art, New York) exhibited in 1962 at the legendary Ferus Gallery in Los Angeles.

Warhol’s 1962 Campbell’s Soup Cans appear, at first glance, to be faithful and exact replicas of the soup company’s labels. But the handiwork of the artist is noticeable in the slightly askew lettering of the soup names, and in the fleur-de-lis images that run along the bottom of each label (made by using hand-cut rubber stamps).

Lot 180, Andy Warhol, Campbell's Soup I, 1968

Lot 180, Andy Warhol, Campbell’s Soup I, (one of ten screenprints on paper), 1968
May 17, 2015 Modern Art & Design Auction

The 1968 Soup Cans prints represent a refinement of that work. With the use of the mechanical silkscreen technique, he removed the direct hand of the artist from the artistic process. “Traditional, manual virtuosity no longer mattered,” in light of Warhol and his silkscreens, write art historians Tony Scherman and David Dalton. “The result alone mattered: whether or not it was a striking image. Making art became a series of mental decisions.” This notion turned centuries of fine art orthodoxy on its head. After Warhol, artists would be seen not only as makers of compelling objects such as painting and sculpture, but also as makers of ideas.

In the fourth edition catalogue raisonné of Warhol prints, curator Donna De Salvo notes of the 1968 silkscreens: “The ten screen prints in each portfolio, based on paintings from 1962, possess none of the color variations or painterly effects of the other prints. They remain the most mechanical and uniform prints Warhol ever produced.” Warhol, in other words, improved upon himself—with his 1968 Campbell’s Soup Cans edition, he made a Warhol more properly a Warhol.

Lot 180 Andy Warhol Campbell's Soup I 1968

Lot 180, Andy Warhol, Campbell’s Soup I, (one of ten screenprints on paper), 1968
May 17, 2015 Modern Art & Design Auction

From Peter Loughrey, Director of Modern Design & Fine Art:

There are a few rare examples of artwork that have gained historical relevance far beyond the creator’s expectations. I find this portfolio to be one of those cases. Warhol made these prints so that more people could afford the iconic images. But it is now understood by curators and art historians, that these ten screenprints represent the purest expression of Warhol’s ideas.

“I want to be a machine.” In light of his stated intentions, his methods, and calling his art studio The Factory—it becomes clear how important these prints are. And the market agrees that this suite of Campbell’s Soup screenprints are at the heart of what makes a Warhol. The famous image trumps the medium.”

Lot 180 Andy Warhol Campbell's Soup I 1968

Lot 180, Andy Warhol, Campbell’s Soup I, (one of ten screenprints on paper), 1968
May 17, 2015 Modern Art & Design Auction

 

Lot Information:

Lot 180
Andy Warhol
Campbell’s Soup I
1968
The complete suite of ten screenprints on paper
#179 of 250
Published by Factory Additions, New York; printed by Salvatore Silkscreen Co., Inc., New York
Each signed in ballpoint pen verso; each stamped with edition verso
Sheets each: 35″ x 23″
F/S #II.44-53
Provenance: James Corcoran Gallery, Los Angeles, California;
Private Collection, Los Angeles, California (acquired directly from the above, May 23, 1989)
Literature: Danto, Arthur C., Donna De Salvo, Frayda Feldman, Claudia Defendi, and Jörg Schellmann. Andy Warhol Prints: A Catalogue Raisonné: 1962-1987. 4th ed. New York: D.A.P., 2003. 72-73. #II.44-53.
Estimate: $400,000 – $600,000

 

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