Tomato, Chicken Noodle and Vegetable. The familiar red and white labels bring back memories of sitting down to a hot bowl of soup as a child. They are beloved and collected now, but when pop artist Andy Warhol introduced his Campbell Soup can series in 1962, he caused a storm in the New York art world.
“At the time, it caused a great scandal,” says Marilu Knode, senior curator at Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art. “(Warhol) was bringing low popular culture into high art.”
You can see the series in “Andy Warhol's Dream America: Screenprints From the Collection of The Jordan Schnitzer Family Foundation,” a survey of 97 prints Warhol created between 1967 and 1981, which opens Saturday at SMoCA.
You'll find Warhol's images of Hollywood stars Marilyn Monroe and John Wayne, and cultural figures such as Mao Tze-tung, Jacqueline Kennedy, Geronimo, Sarah Bernhardt and Mick Jagger.
BRIGHT AND DARK
Warhol's images of commercial products, such as the soup cans and Brillo boxes, do more than just show products that were becoming commonly available after World War II.
“It was about guaranteeing that you didn't have the kind of privation that happened during the Dust Bowl (in the Great Depression), where farmers can't make food, and people starve,” Knode says. “(Production of) the kinds of canned goods we ate as kids ... was about ensuring the population had stable access to food.”
Warhol's artistic expression reacted to the changing culture in the United States from post-World War II through the Kennedy White House.
Take two contrasting images of Jacqueline Kennedy the artist made in 1965. One shows the smiling First Lady, the picture of grace and happiness. The second is a double-image of Kennedy after her husband's assassination, her face showing grief.
“I think the general public just understands the pop nature of (Warhol's) imagery. It's fun, it's bright, it's colorful,” Knode says. “But he actually had a very dark side too, and you just don't see those images as often.”
While a graduate student at Harvard in the late 1970s, Marilyn Zeitlin bought her first Warhol print, a pink image of Mao Tse-tung, by paying $100 installments, when she could, for the $1,000 piece.
“(Warhol) was challenging the notions of uniqueness in art, the idea of genius and the idea of preciousness,” says Zeitlin, who is director and chief curator of the Arizona State University Art Museum in Tempe.
“If you can reproduce a painting again and again and again, why is it worth so much? It's a puzzle.”
Andy Warhol Timeline
Andy Warhola is born in Pittsburgh
While bedridden with chorea, Warhola indulges in Hollywood magazines and collects movie star photos.
Warhola graduates from the Carnegie Institute of Technology and works as an illustrator for Glamour magazine. He Americanizes his last name to Warhol.
Warhol's first exhibition is held in New York City.
Warhol discovers the photo silk-screen technique. Gallery owner Irving Blum buys Warhol's first Campbell Soup Cans series for $1,000.
Warhol begins portrait of Jackie Kennedy, and works on his Electric Chair and Race Riot silk-screens based on Life magazine photos of civil rights riots.
Warhol's first sculpture exhibition
Warhol publicly retires from painting.
Warhol produces the Velvet Underground's first album and designs the album's cover.
Warhol is shot by Valerie Solans; he is prematurely pronounced dead at the hospital.
Warhol writes “The Philosophy of Andy Warhol (From A to B and Back Again)" with Pat Hackett.
“Andy Warhol's TV” celebrity interview program is launched.
Warhol appears on the 200th episode of “The Love Boat.”
Warhol dies during emergency gallbladder surgery on Feb. 22. He is buried, wearing a wig and sunglasses, in Pittsburgh.
Warhol events at SMoCA
“Food for Thought,” a talk by Paula Strickstein, art history lecturer at Mesa Community College. Noon Jan. 25, followed by a tour of the exhibit at SMoCA. Bring a brown-bag lunch. Free.
“More Than Fifteen Minutes of Fame on Film With Andy,” a showing of three Warhol films with no-host bar and snacks. Films include: “Kitchen (1965),” “Andy Warhol's Fifteen Minutes (1985)” and “Lonesome Cowboys (1968).” For adult audiences. 7 p.m. Jan. 27. $15.
“Art and Interaction,” a lecture by George Ramsay of Wittenberg University on Warhol's early career and design principles in pop imagery. 6:30 p.m. Feb. 9. Free.
ARTiculations lecture, Thomas Sokolowski, director of the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh. 7 p.m. Feb. 15. $7.
SMoCA Nights: “Pop,” an event that brings together artists, fashion
designers, musicians and art lovers for entertainment and networking. 9 p.m. March 2. $15.
Arizona Arts Chorale Presents Music of the 1960s, includes music from Broadway and the Beatles. 6:30 p.m. March 16. Free.
Warhol Fashion Show, features Desert Mountain High School students modeling clothing they designed and fashioned. 7 p.m. April 27. Free.
'Andy Warhol's Dream America'
When: Opens Saturday. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday, noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. Ends May 28.
Where: Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art.
Cost: $5 students, $7 adults, free for children under 15. Free on Thursdays.
Information: (480) 994-2787 or www.smoca.org