Andy Warhol – Supermarket of Styles

Today, more than 45 years have passed since Warhol started showing Campbell’s soup cans and Coca-Cola bottles. Over the course of all these years, more and more people have understood that Warhol’s art opened up an undiscovered territory as large as the world itself; that this territory includes not only stars and soup cans, humor and wit, but also mysteries.

His clients soon included The New Yorker, Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue, Bergdorf Goodman and Tiffany & Co. Andy removed the final a from his name and became Warhol. Apart from the purchase of a hairpiece early in the ‘50s and a nose job in 1957, this was about the biggest change he made in himself, as he went from poverty in Pittsburgh to success in New York.

By 1952, he’d received his first medal from the Art Directors Club and had been given his first solo exhibition, at the Hugo Gallery. Warhol exhibited drawings based on the writings of Truman Capote. By 1956, he was participating with a series of drawings of “personality shoes” in a group exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art: Recent Drawings USA.
That same year he also had two solo shows at the Bodley Gallery and went on a round-the-world tour. In 1957, he incorporated himself as Andy Warhol Enterprises to help manage his commercial work.

All this time, Warhol had continued to paint; he also kept abreast of the avant-garde. We know he was aware of Jasper Johns’s work and also of Robert Rauschenberg’s art. In defiance of the prestige then enjoyed by abstract painting, both of those artists incorporated immediately recognizable, images into their works. Jasper Johns painted the American flag, while Rauschenberg inserted objects such as Coca-Cola bottles and photographs of President Eisenhower into his paintings. To Warhol, it was a matter of no small interest that the avant-garde could come so close to his own world of commercial art.

In 1960, Warhol took up the dare and made his first paintings based on comic-strip characters. He exhibited them the following year, not in an art gallery, but in the window of Bonwit-Teller, as the background for a mannequin display. Then he visited the Leo Castelli Gallery and discovered, to his surprise, that Roy Lichtenstein was also making paintings based on comic strips. Apparently, Warhol was on to something. But if Lichtenstein had staked out the comics as a subject for art galleries, then Warhol would have to find something else.
What he found, beginning in 1962, was nothing less than the entire American scene. Whereas other artists like Lichtenstein, James Rosenquist and Tom Wesselmann where also working with Pop Art imagery in the early 1960s, Warhol quickly emerged as a leader, painting grass-roots brand names like Campbell’s, Mott’s, Kellog’s, Del Monte, Coca-Cola; American money, postage stamps, and bonus gift stamps, tabloids and his childhood comic idols Superman, Dick Tracy, Nancy and Popeye. He also portraited the most popular stars from James Dean, Elvis Presley and Elizabeth Taylor to Marlon Brando and Marilyn Monroe.

But this was only the beginning of his art and vision. Warhol’s art is a visual anthology of consumer brands, headlines, personalities, mythic creatures, tragedies and even a tribute to his favorite artworks. Some of his first Pop pictures were made by hand, and to a knowing eye they gave evidence of great skill – for example the images of Campbell’s soup cans with peeling labels, which are marvels of illusionistic brushwork. But soon Warhol adopted the methods of mass production to make images of brands and celebrities who were themselves mass produced.

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Andy Warhol – Pop Art Revolution

Andy Warhol’s Pop Art plays on everyone’s fantasies of an inaccessible glamour and celebrity, as embodied in Marilyn Monroe and Elvis Presley, Jackie Kennedy and Mick Jagger. At the same time, his art demonstrates, over and over, that Marilyn and Elvis, Jackie and Mick are available to everyone, as if they were a can of Coca-Cola.

With his pop painting incorporating images of consumer products and movie stars, Warhol addressed the changes brought about in our society through mass communications and mass productions. In a way that was daring and yet instantly accessible, he reflected the contemporary culture of the United States, and therefore of a world culture that was coming more and more under the American influence. Beyond that, by creating artworks that looked indistinguishable from consumer products such as Coca-Cola bottles or Campbell cans, Warhol presented us with genuine philosophical challenges – which, remarkably enough, everybody understood. As for Warhol’s impact on society, he invented a new approach to America’s fascination with celebrity. He became a celebrity himself, something that had been done before by only a few American artists.

“Everybody has their own America, and then they have pieces of a fantasy America that they think is out there but they can’t see. When I was little, I never left Pennsylvania, and I used to have fantasies about things that I thought were happening…that I felt I was missing out on. But you can only live life in one place at a time… You live in your dream America that you’ve custom-made from art and schmaltz and emotions just as much as you live in your real one”.
Andy Warhol, 1985

Warhol had lived in just such a fantasy America since his childhood days, when he began collecting autographed photos of movie actors.

Andy Warhol’s father Andrej Warhola, born in 1886, emigrated from Mikova, in the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains, to the United States around 1913 and found work as a coal miner. His wife Julia Zavacky (born in 1892), who had married Andrej in 1909, stayed behind; she was unable to follow him to America until 1921. The following year, Julia gave birth to her first child, Paul, and in 1925 to the second, John. Her youngest, Andy, was born in Pittsburgh on August 6, 1928. In Pittsburgh, Andrej Warhola became a laborer in heavy construction. To help support the family, Julia made paper flowers, which she planted in tin cans and sold door-to-door.

The young Andy loved drawing, painting, cutting designs from paper and reading, specially comics and magazines. With Julia’s blessing, Andy skipped grades one and five at elementary school and took free classes in studio art and art appreciation at nearby Carnegie Institute. A few years later, when Andy was 13 years old, Andrej Warhol fell ill and died from tuberculous peritonitis.

In 1945, at age 17, Andy enrolled in the College of Fine Arts of Carnegie Institute of Technology, where he majored in pictorial design. During his summer vacations, he worked as a window dresser at Horne’s department store. Warhol also taught art part-time at the Irene Kaufmann Settlement.
In 1949, a week after his college graduation, Warhol moved to Manhattan where he started a career as a commercial artist. His first assignment was to illustrate an article in Glamour magazine, “Success is a Job in New York.”

As Andy Warhol wrote in 1975, “What’s great about this country is that America started the tradition where the richest consumers buy essentially the same things as the poorest. A Coke is a Coke and no amount of money can get you a better Coke”.
The combination of celebrity worship and consumerism was the keystone of Warhol’s unique pop vision.

Coca-Cola meets Tsubaki Studio, introducing Miss Hua

Today we received this inspired Coca-Cola artwork from Tsubaki Studio, starring their new character Miss Hua.

Tsubaki Studio is a multi-displine creative lab founded by JayLim, one of the emerging talent artists in Asia-Pacific. His studio, based in Kuala Lumpur – Malaysia, is specialized in graphic design, illustration, packaging, typography, motion graphic, interactive web and experimental projects.

You can find more info about Tsubaki Studio on their website: http://www.tsubakistudio.net