Campbell’s Soup: Ode to Food

What is Your Favorite Food?
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Andy Warhol, Campbell’s Soup II, 1969, ©AWF

Students produce narrative illustrations and writings in the poetic form of an ode after discussing a quote by Andy Warhol and viewing his Campbell’s Soup Can artworks. Students explore the concept of liking something so much that one is compelled to create art about that thing.

Grades:

1-12 

Subjects:

Art, English, Language Arts, Creative Writing 

Suggested Time Frame:

1 class period  

Objectives:

  • Students will explain and discuss an Ode
  • Students will discuss repetition
  • Students will articulate and illustrate food preferences
  • Students will compare and contrast student work
  • Students will assess the effects of repetition in daily life (art, music, food)
 
Andy Warhol, Crushed Campbell’s Soup Can (Beef Noodle), 1962, ©AWF
Andy Warhol, Crushed Campbell’s Soup Can (Beef Noodle), 1962, ©AWF

About the Art: 

Warhol's Campbell's Soup Can paintings are key works of the 1960s Pop Art movement, a time when many artists made work derived from popular culture. Warhol's soup cans raise the simply popular or everyday to the status of art. Campbell's and its red and white label date from the late nineteenth century, and became more and more familiar in the twentieth, particularly with the increase in mass production and advertising after World War II. Warhol himself said, "Pop art is about liking things," and claimed that he ate Campbell's soup every day for 20 years. For him, it was the quintessential American product: he marveled that the soup always tasted the same, like Coca-Cola, whether consumed by prince or pauper.

Andy Warhol, Big Torn Campbell’s Soup Can (Pepper Pot), 1962, ©AWF
Andy Warhol, Big Torn Campbell’s Soup Can (Pepper Pot), 1962, ©AWF

Andy Warhol Quote:

 

“I used to drink it [Campbell’s Soup]. I used to have the same lunch every day, for twenty years, I guess, the same thing over and over again.”

Andy Warhol 

Points of View:

 

The Campbell's Soup Can series makes me laugh. In this particular piece I want to know whom the brat was that ripped the label. The simplicity of Warhol's work frustrates me. The Campbell's Soup Can painting conjures up the same emotions as a paper clip or a post-it note: "Why didn't I think of that?" Lifting a soup can up to the level of art doesn't put Warhol in league with Raphael, but it does show some Thomas Edison-style ingenuity. The Campbell's series confirms that if Warhol had but one virtue it was awareness. We are all bombarded by popular culture and Warhol was able to recognize that overwhelming influence. He took a soup can, an image recognized by all, and elevated it to the level of art. I'd call him the All-American artist because he made his medium accessible to people of every class and race. The bright color and provocatively bland subject of the Campbell’s series make room for disagreement among the College educated as much as high school dropouts.

Tom Laskow, CAPA High School student, Youth Label Project, Youth Invasion, The Andy Warhol Museum, 2004. 
 

Soup as the humble meal celebrated by Daumier; soup as the melting pot in an increasingly homogenized America; soup as transition from homemade to pre-prepared item; soup as "good" or "bad" taste, both on the tongue, and as advertising design. Peeling back the label to reveal a generic shape of the machine age generates food for thought: who tracked its route down the assembly line? Who are the tastemakers who determined the flavors of its contents, defining good and bad in terms of sales potential? What were the mechanisms involved in its delivery? Why would Warhol claim that he ate it every day?

Pamela Allara, professor of art, Brandeis University, Massachusetts, quote from Point of View Label Project, The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, 1999. 
 

I've always found it tremendous fun to strip the label off a can - an act of violent, seductive denuding. Deprived of its paper vestment, a can is anonymous, cold, and eternal as a Greek temple's column. The lacerations in the label are like St. Sebastian's wounds - sadomasochistically homoerotic. The unpeeling paper also resembles a spool of 16mm film, the strip of curvy celluloid loosening from its reel.

Wayne Koestenbaum, poet and critic, quote from Point of View Label Project, The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, 1999. 
1994 Installation of Soup Can paintings in the Pop Gallery, The Andy Warhol Museum, ©AWF
1994 Installation of Soup Can paintings in the Pop Gallery, The Andy Warhol Museum, ©AWF

Discussion Questions:

  1. What would you love to eat every day for 20 years?
  2. What would be torture for you to eat every day?
  3. Does repetition affect your taste for something? Explain you answer.
  4. When an artist repeats an image over and over again, what effect does it have on the viewer?
  5. Why do you think Andy Warhol made so many Campbell’s Soup Can paintings?
 
Procedure

Materials:

Image of Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup Ode to Food template  Colored pencils
Ode to Food example Pens

Procedure:

  1. Students write an ode about their food of choice (favorite, aversion or other) and make an accompanying drawing of this food. Explain what an ode is:
  2. Ode: (n. Middle French or Late Latin) - a lyrical poem usually marked by exaltation (elevation, glorification) of feeling and style, varying length of line and complexity of stanza forms.

  3. Pass out materials and supplies.
  4. Students may start with the illustration or the ode or work back and forth between the two.
 
Assessment

Students present their odes to the class and discuss the similarities and differences between the foods the class liked and disliked. Possible discussion questions:

  1. Are there any cultural trends within the class?
  2. How well are these favorite foods advertised in the media?
  3. Does the media affect our likes and dislikes when it comes to food?
 

Warhol Education Rubrics

Click the Warhol Rubric headers below to reveal associated rubrics to which this lesson applies.

Critical Thinking
Communication
Creative Process