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Lesson Everyday Objects and Transformation

This artwork consists of 23 Coca-Cola bottles spray painted silver and arranged in a silkscreen printed, wooden crate. The crate is painted yellow with lettering printed in red. The slogan on the front panel reads “Have a Coke” while the logo on the right-side panel reads

Andy Warhol, You're In, 1967
The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh; Founding Collection, Contribution The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc.
© The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc.
1998.1.789a-x

Alter a popular everyday object using a wide range of materials to change its visual impact.

Just as Andy Warhol transformed everyday objects into works of art, students transform their own commonplace objects into unique sculptures. Through wrapping and covering, each student modifies an object while maintaining its recognizable form. This lesson introduces students to aesthetic and critical response through a “4C” approach to evaluating art.

Objectives

  • Students discuss the difference between found objects, or “ready-mades,” and the transformation of an everyday object into a work of art.
  • Students transform an everyday object into a work of art using a wide variety of materials.
  • Students critique artworks using the “4Cs” (context, concept, creativity, and craftsmanship).
A Coca-cola bottle which has been coated with silver paint sits alone against a gray background. The word Coke can be made out around the middle of the bottle, where the label would be.

3-D Work

Andy Warhol, You're In, 1967
The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh; Founding Collection, Contribution The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc.
© The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc.
1998.1.789a-x

About the Art

For Warhol, popular mass-produced food items represented the best of American consumerist society. What could be better than a product, such as Campbell’s Soup or Coca-Cola, which was distributed in vast quantities worldwide and the quality consistent and the price affordable? Although he had made paintings of Coke bottles in the early 1960s, in 1967 the artist 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 perfume, which he rakishly labeled “You’re In”/“Eau d’Andy.” Unsurprisingly, the Coca-Cola Company responded with a cease and desist letter.

Points of View

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 Coke, Liz Taylor drinks Coke, 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), 1975

Vocabulary

Discussion Questions

  1. What effect does Warhol’s silver paint have on the coke bottle? What does it imply to drink from a silver bottle versus one made of glass? What associations do you make with the color silver?
  2. If Warhol had painted these bottles white, would they have a different impact on the viewer?
  3. By painting these bottles silver, Warhol transformed them into a work of art. How does something change from an object to an artwork? Who is involved in this artistic process?
  4. What is the difference between an everyday object that has been transformed through artistic process and a found object or “ready-made”? Does one have more artistic value? Why or why not?

Materials

Procedure

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

  1. Use the discussion questions to introduce Warhol’s silver Coke bottles, You’re In.
  2. Give students the Transformation: Glenn Kaino handout and ask them to compare and contrast Warhol’s You’re In with 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 figurines, tools, bottles, toys, and packaging. It is easiest to work with items that are larger than a two-inch cube, 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, set out all wrapped objects in front of the students.
  6. Give students the 4Cs handout. Explain and discuss the definitions of context, concept, creativity, and craftsmanship. (You may want to state that context and concept are closely related, but note that context serves as the guideline for this assignment.)
  7. Have students individually choose three objects to evaluate using the 4Cs.
  8. Discuss the selections and evaluations.

 

Wrap-up

Aesthetics questions for discussion:

  1. What types of objects were the most compelling? Why?
  2. Did the objects with the strongest concepts seem the most interesting?
  3. 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?
  4. What role did creativity play in your selections?
  5. Did all of the objects require great craftsmanship to convey their message?
  6. What would an object with no craftsmanship need to be considered a worthy art object?
  7. What role do your own personal tastes play in what you find strong or weak?

Extension

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

Assessment

The following assessments can be used for this lesson using the downloadable assessment rubric.

  • Aesthetics 3
  • Communication 4
  • Creative process 4
  • Creative process 5
  • Critical thinking 2
  • Historical context 1