A series of art prints depicting red and white soup cans has weathered more than 15 minutes of fame. Its notoriety began a half-century ago today at Los Angeles' Ferus Gallery.
When canned Campbell’s soup was an American household staple, artist Andy Warhol took it out of the cupboard and put it on canvas. The images of such an ordinary item struck contemporary audiences as a head-scratcher. But the Ferus Gallery on La Cienega Boulevard presented the works in the West Coast’s first pop art exhibition that opened on this day in 1962. It was also the first solo fine art show for Warhol, a creative force many people associate with New York.
From a guy whose later works set auction house records, five of the 32 soup canvases sold for $100 each - a price that sounds exorbitant for soup but not bad for art.
Ferus co-owner Irving Blum eventually bought them back so the set could stay together. His partner in the gallery, Walter Hopps, moved on to direct the Pasadena Art Museum. That institution – now called the Norton Simon - helped keep Warhol in the Southland eye during the 1960s.
The Museum of Modern Art in New York is the permanent home of the original Campbell’s Soup Cans series.