Title: Campbell’s Soup Box: Chicken Rice
Medium: Acrylic and silkscreen ink on canvas
Size: 24 x 20 inches
Notes: This work is stamped-signed twice, dated 1986 twice, and signed by Frederick Hughes twice on the overlap.
Campbell’s Soup Box: Chicken Rice
Campbell’s Soup Box: Chicken Rice was painted over 20 years after Warhol first used Campbell’s in his art in 1962. At this point, his Campbell’s Soup Cans painting had created such a following, that Warhol was recognized with the Campbell’s brand more than actual Campbell’s spokespeople. After all this time, Andy Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup Box: Chicken Rice is still a revelation. In fact, it now stands for even more. When Warhol first came out with the soup box series, people thought he had gone insane and his insanity would let cause him to wiggle away from the contemporary art scene. This would have been true if the contemporary art scene itself were not evolving. But, it can be said without much doubt that Warhol was not just a part of this great metamorphosis, but also the architect of it. The main argument that the critics of Andy Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup Box: Chicken Rice, had was that this was not art. But art itself had become more sophisticated, art represented far more than what was depicted on the paper. It was the man behind the painting and the idea behind that man that created the art. When it comes to the idea behind Andy Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup Box: Onion Mushroom, there is no argument that the idea was revolutionary. The idea that something so ordinary had so much magic as to be lionized in the way Warhol lionized it, was not just significant of the lionization of the object in question- but also a commentary on society.
Campbell’s Soup Box: Chicken Rice as Part of Andy Warhol’s Larger Body of Work
Aside from the lionization of the ordinary, Andy Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup Box: Onion Mushroom, also represented a crucial theme of consumerism in modern society. While, the connotation of consumerism always carries a theme of mourning, mourning that society has lost itself in its obsession with materialism- Warhol perhaps had a slightly different view. His constant representation of consumerism- time and again, and in every way possible- he almost embraced it. Hence, Andy Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup Box: Onion Mushroom, twenty years later is almost more symbolic than the original series. For Andy Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup Box: Onion Mushroom, represents the triumph of consumerism. It represents that twenty years hence, and the world is still steadfast on the road paved by mass media and consumerism. This particular piece is very interestingly composed. The most colorful and vibrant part of the painting is the label that says ‘Campbell’s’ , this label has a yellow outline and pink shading around it, it is inarguably what captures the viewer most about the work- or at least the first element that captures the viewer. Then there is an imagery of the soup, which is vibrant, but still less than the title- the vibrancy gets progressively less. Finally, under the imagery of the soup, there is the flavor, which is the least vibrant, and is written in gray. This regression of color, represents that the most important thing about the soup is the brand it belongs to- which essentially represents that we live in a society where the brand name and packaging matter more than the contents and product itself. This is a very powerful message and commentary- that is more relevant today than it was in Warhol’s time which makes this work even more relevant today than it was in Warhol’s time.