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Kunsthaus Zürich

American Painting since 1945

Ever since the liberation of art and artists in the 19th century the pendulum has swung back and forth between an insistence on artistic autonomy and an emphasis on its relationship to life, with a correspondingly subjective style set against a more general, more objective formalism. In the wake of abstract expressionism and action painting with its extreme emphasis on artistic individualism came Pop Art: in place of lyrical abstraction, the visual repertoire of mass consumption. Andy Warhol came from the world of advertising and turned the stylistic perfection associated with it to good use in his elevation of a commonplace soup can with a half-torn label into a gallery painting: symbolic, overstated like a bill poster yet nonetheless transformed into a model, a “cool” icon of supermarket culture. The exemplar in Zurich was one of his first and is particularly intensive, as it is still painted by hand all the way down to the stencilled lilies of the trademark. Soon after, Warhol was to use the technique of silk printing to standardize his production process.

Andy Warhol (1930–1987)
Big Torn Campbell’s Soup Can (Vegetable Beef), 1962
Acrylic on canvas, 183 x 137 cm
Acquired 1975
© ProLitteris
Andy Warhol (1930–1987)
Big Torn Campbell’s Soup Can (Vegetable Beef), 1962
Acrylic on canvas, 183 x 137 cm
Acquired 1975
© ProLitteris