After serving as an icon for nearly 60 years as the inspiration behind Andy Warhol’s famous pop art, Campbell’s soup can is being redesigned — and put up for sale online as a “non-fungible token.”
The 1960s mod style meets the world of bitcoin as the proceeds from the “NFT,” which allows people to buy virtual shares of a work of art, go to hunger to fight charities.
Through the redesign, the company said Tuesday it would evoke the “same sense of comfort, goodness and Americana” as the previous label, featuring familiar inflorescences such as the slanted “O” in soup and the cursive Campbell’s font that came from the world’s first ready-made soup: Campbell’s Beefsteak Tomato, in 1895.
That familiarity, as the story goes, was what led Warhol to recreate the can in 32 paintings he made from 1961 to 1962.
The form grew out of the artist’s roots in the previous decade as a window dresser in New York City, where he designed commercial displays intended to attract shoppers.
Campbell’s announced on Tuesday the first redesign of its iconic soup can label in 50 years, with the new design (left) looking pretty close to the old one (right)
Pop artist Andy Warhol famously recreated the can logo in 32 paintings he created from 1961 to 1961. The story goes that he chose the design based on his fame. He is pictured in 1971 with actress Jane Forth
Legend has it that New York art dealer Roberta Latow was the person who gave Warhol the idea for his Campbell’s soup
In the advertising world, it was the standard to mimic details of everyday life, as Warhol had done in his window treatments, according to a look at his pop art beginnings by Smithsonian Magazine.
In the early 1960s, Warhol tried to break into the high culture art world as opposed to the commercial world in which he earned his living, but he struggled to find the right inspiration.
His breakthrough would come from a conversation with Muriel Latow, an underage New York art dealer who went to dinner at Warhol’s house in the fall of 1961, when he complained that he was outnumbered by other pop art pioneers Claes Oldenburg and Roy Lichtenstein.
“I need to do something that will really make a big impact, that will be different enough from Lichtenstein,” he is said to have told her, asking his guests for ideas.
As the legend goes, Latow asked Warhol to hand over a $50 check before telling him hers.
“You have to find something that is recognizable to almost everyone,” she told him. ‘Something you see every day that everyone would recognize. Kind of like a can of Campbell’s Soup.’
The next day, Warhol, or his mother, as other versions of the story tell it, ran to a grocery store across the street and bought every kind of soup they had in stock.
The paintings would mark Warhol’s breakthrough as a pop artist after years of designing window decorations
When it comes to the newly designed, modern look, other details on the redesigned may include the ‘C’ of founder Joseph Campbell’s original signature in the fleur de lis, bordering ‘soup’ on the bottom.
It is intended to pay tribute to the lettering of the original red and white label created in 1898.
The soup varieties that include the redesign are tomato, chicken cream, mushroom cream, and chicken noodle
To celebrate the launch of the redesigned label, Campbells also announced it was selling its first-ever non-fungible token (NFT) artwork based on the redesign Tuesday night, with proceeds going to the nonprofit Feeding America.
The company partnered with digital artist Sophia Chang for the sale.
The new design remains little changed from the mid-century version that further popularized Warhol
Based in Queens, Chang is a commercial artist who has worked for brands such as the MLB, Reebok, Microsoft and many others and has 67,000 followers on Instagram.
100 of the artworks would go on sale at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday on the NTWRK platform for about $112 each, and a unique animated version will be auctioned on Opensea.
It’s not clear how much the piece is estimated to sell for, but it’s open for bids until Aug. 6 at 9 p.m.
By comparison, just one of Warhol’s 1962 soup cans sold for more than $9 million in 2010, according to Christie’s auction house – and is almost certainly worth considerably more now.
Campbell’s has also commissioned an NFT artwork from commercial artist Sophia Chang to celebrate the redesign. 100 copies of her art (pictured above) were set to go on sale Tuesday at 5:30 p.m., while a unique animated version will go up for auction until Aug. 6 at 9 p.m.
“Some of the most famous pop art ever created was inspired by Campbell’s red and white can — the design is as much a staple of the grocery aisle as American culture,” Chang said. ‘As a visual storyteller, I’m always looking for new ways to express creativity. I wanted to make the beloved label a hero with keywords that fit the brand for me, while adding a photo-realistic element of the fresh label to celebrate the new design.”
The soup maker had seen a quarterly increase in sales of 15 percent in June 2020 as customers piled up supplies at the start of the pandemic, but has seen a slowdown in business since then.
However, in March 2021, the company said sales slowed as the coronavirus eased.
In June, the company said higher material and transportation costs were cutting profit margins New York Post reported.
“We expected this quarter to be a challenging quarter… but it was made even more difficult by several additional factors,” said Campbell Chief Executive Officer Mark Clouse.
The company also expects sales to fall by at least 3 percent.