As a visual art movement that emerged in the mid-50s, pop art emphasizes the nature of popular objects in our daily routine.
In this case, a supermarket. Not just any supermarket, but The American Supermarket exhibit in NYC of October 1964.
Held by Paul Bianchini, pop art dealer at the Bianchini Gallery, the show presented a typical U.S. supermarket, except that everything inside—from the produce, canned goods, meat, posters on the wall, and more—was created by six prominent pop artists of the time, including Andy Warhol.
Warhol featured a silk-screen diptych of two Campbell’s soup cans on top of original cans that were autographed by himself, costing an arm and a leg. He split the production into non-artistic objects and its subsequent transformation into a work of art. Clearly, the production of goods and art were counterbalanced allowing the difference of art and non-art to be indistinguishable.
Warhol’s sold silkscreened Campbell’s Soup can shopping bags for $2 each and autographed soup cans for $6 each.
The exhibit was one of the first events that confronted the public with both pop art and the question of what art is. It blurred the boundary between the distribution of art and goods. It also gave tradition a contemporary twist in the context of a supermarket.
This makes us ask, would it be considered a “destruction of art” to open up and eat one of Warhol’s signed soup cans?