Everyday Objects and Transformation

An Introduction to Aesthetics
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Andy Warhol, You’re In, 1967, ©AWF

This activity uses Andy Warhol's transformation of Coca-cola bottles as a springboard for artistic alteration of objects through diverse materials. The simple transformation changes the visual impact, aesthetics and meaning of the object. Using the “4C” approach, students learn how to evaluate art through context, concept, creativity and craftsmanship. The activity fosters problem solving, research, strong critique dialogue and rich content development in student work.

Grades:

6-12 

Subjects:

Visual Arts, Sculpture, Communications 

Suggested Time Frame:

2-3 class periods 

This project works best as an overnight assignment so that students can be responsible for finding materials to match their ideas

Objectives: 

  • Students will wrap an object with a unique covering in such a way that the original object’s form is still obvious
  • Students will develop an art object, from a  readymade object, through its relationship or dialogue with a particular wrapping/covering
  • Students will evaluate wrapped art objects based on their context, concept, creativity and craftsmanship
  • Students willl be able to critique an artwork by investigating and questioning its "4Cs"
 

About the Art: 

For Warhol, popular mass-produced food items represented the best and brightest of American consumerist society. What could be better than a product, be it Campbell’s Soup or Coca-Cola, which was distributed in vast quantities worldwide, the quality of which was consistently excellent and the price eminently affordable? Although he had made paintings of Coke bottles two years before, the artist now turned to a sculptural intervention using actual soda pop bottles (originally conceived by the renowned designer Raymond Loewy), which he coated with silver paint. Three years later, Warhol went a step further by capping 100 silver bottles and filling them with a perfume which he rakishly labeled “You’re In”/“Eau d’Andy.”  Not surprisingly, the Coca-Cola Company responded with a cease and desist letter.

Andy Warhol, You’re In, detail, 1967, ©AWF
Andy Warhol, You’re In, detail, 1967, ©AWF

Andy Warhol Quote:

 

“What’s great about this country is that America started the tradition where the richest consumers buy essentially the same things as the poorest. You can be watching TV and see Coca-Cola, and you can know that the President drinks Cokes, Liz Taylor drinks Cokes, and just think, you can drink Coke, too. A Coke is a Coke and no amount of money can get you a better Coke than the one the bum on the corner is drinking. All the Cokes are the same and all the Cokes are good. Liz Taylor knows it, the President knows it, the bum knows it, and you know it.”

Andy Warhol, The Philosophy of Andy Warhol: From A to B and Back Again. 

Discussion Questions:

  1. What effect does Warhol’s silver paint have on the coke bottle? What does it imply to drink from a silver cup versus one made of glass?
  2. What associations do you make with the color silver?
  3. If Warhol had painted these bottles white, would they have a different impact on the viewer?
  4. By painting these bottles silver Andy Warhol transformed them into a work of art. How does something change from just an object to an artwork? Who is involved in this artistic process?
 
Procedure

Materials:

This project works best as an overnight assignment so that students can be responsible for finding materials to match their ideas. If you were to conduct it in a studio, you may need:

Various materials AdhesivesTools Handout 1 - the "4Cs"
bottles, toys, books, stuffed animals, shoes, silverwaremagazines, newspapers, wire, plastic, bandages, hardware, candy, fabricglue, hot glue, clear tape, duct tape, paper machépliers, wire snips, scissors

Procedure:

  1. Use the discussion questions above to introduce Andy Warhol’s silver Coke bottles.
  2. Compare and contrast Andy Warhol’s You’re In with contemporary artist Glenn Kaino’s work Graft (Ostrich).
  3. Have students select an everyday object from home or have a selection on hand in the classroom. Suggestions include: plastic figures, tools, bottles, toys and packaging. It is easiest to work with items that are larger than 2 inches cubed, but smaller than a shoe box.
  4. Instruct students to wrap their object with a covering that creates a dialogue with the object in a manner that allows the original object’s form to remain evident.
  5. When completed, lay all completed objects out in front of the students.
  6. Give students Handout: The 4Cs for Evaluating Art. Explain and discuss the definitions: Context, Concept, Creativity and Craftsmanship (you may want to state that context and concept are closely related, but note that the context for the students will serve as the guidelines for the assignment).
  7. Have students individually choose three objects to evaluate using the 4Cs.
  8. Discuss the selections and evaluations.
 
Assessment

Wrap-up:

Aesthetics questions for discussion:

- What types of objects were the most compelling? Why?

- Did the objects with the strongest concepts seem the most interesting?

- Did you find objects that seemed weak in concept became more interesting after hearing the artist’s ideas? Or did the artist’s concept for any of your chosen objects weaken your view of them?

- What role did creativity play in your selections?

- Did all of the objects require great craftsmanship to convey their message?

- What would an object with no craftsmanship need to be considered a worthy art object?

- What role do your own personal tastes play in what you find strong or weak?

Optional:

Critically respond to Andy Warhol's You're In and Glenn Kaino’s Graft (Ostrich) using the "4Cs" evaluation system.

Warhol Education Rubrics

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

Critical Thinking
Aesthetics
Communication
Creative Process
Historical Context