Andy Warhol felt guilty whenever there was any food leftovers- owing to his fabulously poor and obscure childhood – before he attained international fame for his pop art. It’s hard to ignore the fact that most of his work revolved around food and often, it became his inspiration…
Highlighted below are five instances of the obsession that he had with food.
Campbell Soup Cans
Of the two popular images one would associate Warhol with, one is his iconic mass reproduction of Marilyn Monroe’s face and the other was the famous representation of Campbell soup cans, both key works of the 1960’s Pop Art Movement. The quintessential American product- Warhol chose the thirty two Campbell soup cans because a soup tastes the same, whether it is being consumed by a prince or by a pauper. Equated with fodder for the masses, the soup cans were more like a commemoration to the capitalist democracy.
The Velvet Underground Banana
Not many bands then, would willingly choose a sexually charged image on the cover of their debut album. However, Velvet Underground, the band which had Warhol as their patron saint, took one small step, which turned into a giant leap- at least where public reproduction of sexually explicit imagery on such a platform was concerned. The famous cover featured an erect banana, which could be peeled back; an image which has today joined the plethora of mass produced images drawing inspiration from pop culture. So iconic was this image that 50 years after the release of the cover, the Andy Warhol Foundation and the band locked horns as to who it’s rightful owner was.
Andy eats a Hamburger
Art for Warhol was a commodity Everything, for him, had the capacity to be art. That and the insistence on debunking the sense of narration behind everything, made Andy Warhol appear in a five minute long video in which he does nothing but eat a Burger King Whooper. However, there is more to this video than what meets the eye. The video could as well be a documentation of America’s favourite pseudo religion- the consumption of fast food, where the faithful however fails to attain nirvana as is seen by Warhol’s apathetic reaction following the consumption of the hamburger. He just sits and does nothing. That and the fact that anything with a celebrity tag attached would sell- we end up watching a 5 minute video of nothing but a man eating a hamburger and at the end declaring- “My name is Andy Warhol and I just ate a hamburger.”
‘No amount of money can get you a better Coke than the one the bum around the corner is drinking.’ Warhol, in his ever present insistence on the fact that there was beauty even in the mundane, chose the mass produced Coca Cola bottles to be one of his works of art. The reason? The President drank Coke, Liz Taylor drank Coke, and you drank Coke too- the same coke from the same glass bottle. Thus inspired, Warhol drew a six foot tall representation of the bottle- which on the 13 November, 2013 was purchased by an anonymous buyer for a whopping $57.3 million.
Tuna Fish Disaster 1963
A part of his Death and Disaster series, Warhol represented the infamous Tuna Fish Disaster of 1963, in which two women died of consuming Tuna fish that they had picked off supermarket shelves. Wanting to depict disaster as a part of life, Warhol chose the incident to highlight the negative effects of consumption, and the failure of supermarket food chains to protect consumers from the ill effects of the food they sold.