It was unique, groundbreaking and set to change design radically. And yet when Andy Warhol first exhibited his Campbell’s Soup Cans in 1962, the work was met with mockery and indifference. A rival parody exhibition of actual soup cans opened in response; the general public was apathetic. It seemed a flop, the epitome of unfashionable.
However, this unpopularity didn’t last. Irving Blum, owner of the Ferus Gallery in Los Angeles where the work was first shown, realised the 32 paintings of the piece had to be kept together rather than sold off individually as intended. This made it different; it made it a statement. The work seemed to speak of the spirit of a new America, one that thoroughly embraced the consumer culture of the new decade. Before the end of the year Campbell’s Soup Cans was so on-trend that Manhattan socialites were wearing soup can-printed dresses to high-society events.