Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (MOCA) Opens Andy Warhol Campbell’s Soup Cans Exhibition

The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (MOCA) presents Andy Warhol Campbell’s Soup Cans, open July 9–September 7, 2011.

The installation opens on the forty-ninth anniversary of the original exhibition of the thirty-two paintings at Ferus Gallery in Los Angeles—Andy Warhol’s first solo exhibition—and pays tribute to the significant role played by the gallery and its revered director Irving Blum in the development of Los Angeles

Andy Warhol, Campbell’s Soup Cans, 1962, synthetic polymer paint on thirty-two canvases, each 20 x 16 in., gift of Irving Blum; Nelson A. Rockefeller Bequest, gift of Mr. and Mrs. William A.M. Burden, Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Fund, gift of Nina and Gordon Bunshaft in honor of Henry Moore, Lillie P. Bliss Bequest, Philip Johnson Fund, Frances Keech Bequest, gift of Mrs. Bliss Parkinson, and Florence B. Wesley Bequest (all by exchange); The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY, U.S.A., © 2011 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, digital image © The Museum of Modern Art/Licensed by SCALA/Art Resource, NY, Campbell Trademarks used with permission of Campbell Soup Companycontemporary art.

“MOCA is proud to bring Andy Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup Cans back to Los Angeles for this historic celebration of his first solo exhibition,” said MOCA Director Jeffrey Deitch.

Andy Warhol’s (b. 1928, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; d. 1987, New York) Campbell’s Soup Cans (1962) is perhaps the most emblematic representation of his work and also of American pop art. Pop artists were interested in taking objects and images abundantly present in everyday life as their subjects, integrating popular culture into fine art. Making use of mechanical reproduction techniques and repetition, Warhol’s approach has been seen as cool and dispassionate. In the Campbell’s Soup Cans series, the works are also celebratory and nostalgic. Warhol reproduced the industrial look of the thirty-two soup-can labels by hand, although the fleur-de-lis motifs were mechanically printed and retain a quality that suggests mass production—an appearance seemingly at odds with the traditional notion of an artwork as a unique expression of the individual artist.

This presentation marks the first time Campbell’s Soup Cans has been shown in Los Angeles since its historic exhibition at the Ferus Gallery in July 1962, Warhol’s first solo show. In addition to celebrating one of the most influential exhibitions in the history of contemporary art, this project honors the legendary dealer Irving Blum, director of the Ferus Gallery, who gave Warhol his first solo exhibition. Blum has told the story that Warhol was reluctant to have his first exhibition in Los Angles rather than New York, and encouraged Warhol by telling him that “movie stars come to the gallery.” In fact, there was only a small Hollywood contingent that was part of the Los Angeles art world, including Dennis Hopper and a few of his friends, but Warhol was eventually convinced.

Blum sold several of the paintings for $100 each, but as the show was coming down, he realized that it was essential that all of the works be kept together. He asked the buyers whether they would consider canceling their purchases, and they agreed. Blum kept all thirtytwo Campbell’s Soup Cans in his collection until 1996, when they were acquired by the Museum of Modern Art as partial gift and purchase. MOCA is grateful to the Museum of Modern Art for lending Campbell’s Soup Cans for this special exhibition.

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