This Sunday, Campbell’s Soup will unveil limited edition soup cans based on Andy Warhol’s classic painting of their original soup label. 1.2 million cans with colorful, vintage labels featuring little blurbs by Warhol on the back will be sold at Target stores starting Sunday.
It’s pretty meta—the company stealing back from an artist who essentially copied their design on a large, two-dimensional scale; and it speaks to how intermingled art and business have become. The Black Keys plays on AT&T commercials—of course the world’s largest soup company is using Warhol to capture the indie crowd. Compared to the corny labels on the brand’s new “hipster soups,” the Warhol labels are great.
Despite Campbell’s initial response to the soup label (Daily Mail says they considered legal action), the company has long embraced Warhol’s work, and even collaborated with the artist. The Daily Mail reports:
[In 1964], Campbell commissioned Warhol to do a painting of a can of Campbell’s tomato soup as a gift for its retiring board chairman, Oliver G. Willits; Warhol was paid $2,000 for the work. Campbell also invited the artist to visit its headquarters in Camden, N.J., although Thorn said there’s no indication a visit ever took place.
There was no contact after that until 1985, when the company commissioned Warhol to paint packages of its new dry soup mixes for advertisements. Warhol died about two years later.
In 1993, the company bought a Warhol painting of one of its tomato soup cans to hang in its boardroom of its headquarters. The company also has a licensing agreement with the Warhol estate to sell clothing, magnets and other gear, mostly overseas, bearing the artist’s renditions.