Campbell’s Soup Cans II: Old Fashioned Vegetable 54 by Andy Warhol is a print included in his Campbell’s Soup Cans II portfolio from 1969. This series was a continuation of his first Campbell’s Soup Can print series from 1968, with ten additional prints featuring more uncommon flavors. Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup Cans II portfolio came seven years after his original Campbell’s Soup Cans paintings debuted at the Ferus Gallery in 1962. The original series, sometimes called 32 Campbell’s Soup Cans, received mixed reviews from artists and critics. Some thought the series was blatantly commercial, a simple copy of a boring commodity. Regardless, the portfolio garnered the recognition that would launch Warhol’s career. Andy returned to the concept twice, creating some of the most important images in modern art history. The Campbell’s Soup I and II series are amongst Warhol’s most admired and valuable prints of all time.
In addition to serving as a symbol of consumerism and advertising, the soup cans are a bold commentary on the status quo of art. While most artists at the time focused on traditional sources of artistic value–like nature and emotion–Warhol took a different approach. As a Pop Artist, Warhol appropriated well known objects and images of consumer culture, placing them in a new context and effectively elevating them to fine art. Warhol took the simple design and blew it up to a 35×32 inch print, with a flat and bold composition. As some of the most groundbreaking artifacts of Pop Art, the Campbell’s Soup Cans challenged what could be deemed socially and artistically acceptable, forever changing the trajectory of modern art.
Campbell’s Soup Cans II: Old Fashion Vegetable is one of the most iconic works of modern art, which Warhol used to convey his thoughts on and consumerism and the products of 20th century industry. His use of repetition adds to the commercial style, resembling the look of a billboards and comic book pages. Further, the repetitive nature of his work embodies the mass-production of consumer goods, which he sought to replicate with art. He even dubbed his art studio “The Factory,” which became a hub for underground creatives and Warhol’s “superstars” to party and collaborate.
Although Warhol’s 1969 portfolio still contains the same familiar red and white design, Campbell’s Soup Cans II showcases ten additional Campbell’s Soup cans, each different flavors. The series uses the same trademark design Americans know and love, but with the addition of new graphics. In place of the traditional Campbell’s golden seal, designs unique to each flavor are shown on the front of the can. On this particular print, the label’s design reads, “Old Fashioned Vegetable Made with Beef Stock”. These later designs fit into Warhol’s already existing soup works by maintaining the repetitive design while adding a small illustrative flare. Other works from this series include Hot Dog Bean 59, Golden Mushroom 62, and Scotch-Broth 55.
Warhol began to use screen printing in order to achieve precise and reliable results. This development allowed Warhol to conveniently create multiple copies of images. He would soon begin mass producing detailed images with a factory-style approach, forming the heartbeat of his oeuvre. By allowing him to achieve an identical and accurate outcome, screen printing became Warhol’s signature method of artistic creation.
Despite some of the initial criticism Warhol received after showing his original Campbell’s Soup cans, the work gave him the reputation that would launch his career to new heights. Works like Campbell’s Soup Cans II: Old Fashioned Vegetable 54 soon became quintessential Pop Art masterpieces. Still to this day, Warhol’s soup cans rule the Pop Art world.