After serving as an icon for nearly 60 years as the inspiration behind Andy Warhol’s famous pop art, the Campbell’s soup can is getting a redesign – and is going up for sale as a ‘non-fungible token’ online.
Its 1960s mod style meets the world of bitcoin as the proceeds from the ‘NFT,’ which allows people to buy virtual shares of a piece of art, goes to a hunger for fighting charity.
Through the redesign the company said Tuesday it hopes to evoke, the ‘same sense of comfort, goodness and Americana,’ as the previous label did, with familiar flourishes such as the slanted ‘O’ in soup, and the cursive Campbell’s font that came from the world’s first ready-to-eat soup: Campbell’s Beefsteak Tomato, in 1895.
That familiarity, as the story goes, was what brought Warhol to recreate the can in 32 paintings he produced from 1961 to 1962.
The form came from the artist’s roots in the previous decade as a window dresser in New York City, where he designed commercial displays intended to draw shoppers in.
Campbell’s announced the first redesign of its iconic soup can label in 50 years Tuesday, with the new design (left) appearing to hew fairly closely to the old one (right)
Pop artist Andy Warhol famously recreated the can logo in 32 paintings he made from 1961 to 1961. The story goes that he chose the design based off of its familiarity. He is pictured in 1971 with actress Jane Forth
The legend goes that New York art dealer Roberta Latow was the person who gave Warhol the idea for his Campbell’s soup
In the advertising world, the standard was to recreate details from everyday life, as Warhol had done in his window dressings, according to a look into his pop-art beginnings by Smithsonian Magazine.
By the beginning of the 1960s Warhol was seeking to break into the high culture art world as opposed to the commercial one he had been making a living in, but was having trouble finding the proper inspiration.
His breakthrough would come from a conversation with Muriel Latow, a minor New York art dealer who went to a dinner party at Warhol’s house in the fall of 1961, when he was lamenting being surpassed by other pop art pioneers Claes Oldenburg and Roy Lichtenstein.
‘I’ve got to do something that really will have a lot of impact, that will be different enough from Lichtenstein,’ he is supposed to have told her, and asked his guests for ideas.
As the legend goes, Latow asked Warhol to hand over a check for $50 before telling him hers.
‘You’ve got to find something that’s recognizable to almost everybody,’ she told him. ‘Something you see every day that everybody would recognize. Something 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 supermarket across the street and purchased every variety of the soup it had in stock.
The paintings would be Warhol’s breakthrough as a pop artist after he spend years designing window dressings
When it comes to the newly designed, modern-day can, other details on the redesigned can include the ‘C’ from founder Joseph Campbell’s original signature in the fleur de lis, bordering ‘soup’ on the bottom.
It is meant to pay tribute to the tribute to the lettering from the original red and white label created in 1898.
The soup varieties to include the redesign are tomato, cream of chicken, cream of mushroom and chicken noodle
To celebrate the launch of its redesigned label, Campbells also announced that it was selling its first-ever non-fungible token (NFT) artwork Tuesday evening based off of the new design, 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 Warhol further popularized
Based in Queens, Chang is a commercial artist who has worked for brands such as the MLB, Reebok, Microsoft among many others and has 67,000 followers on Instagram.
100 of the art pieces were scheduled to go on sale at 5.30 pm Tuesday on the platform NTWRK for around $112 a piece, and a unique animated version is scheduled to go up for auction on Opensea.
It is not clear how much the piece is estimated to sell for, but it will be open to bids until Aug. 6 at 9pm.
For comparison, just one of Warhol’s soup cans from 1962 was sold in 2010 for more than $9 million, according to Christie’s auction house – and almost certainly is worth significantly more now.
Campbell’s also commissioned an NFT artwork by commercial artist Sophia Chang to celebrate the redesign. 100 copies of her art (pictured above) were scheduled to go on sale Tuesday at 5.30pm while a unique animated version will be up for auction until Aug. 6 at 9pm
‘Some of the most famous pop art ever created was inspired by the Campbell’s red and white can — the design is as much a staple of the grocery aisle as it is American culture,’ Chang said. ‘As a visual storyteller, I always am looking for new ways to express creativity. I wanted to hero the beloved label with key words that connect to the brand for me, while including a photo-real element of the fresh label to celebrate the new design.’
The soup maker had seen a 15 percent quarterly surge in sales in June 2020 as customers stockpiled at the outset of the pandemic but has since seen a downturn in business.
By March 2021, however, the company said sales were slowing as the coronavirus waned.
By June, the company said that higher material and transportation costs were cutting into its profit margins the New York Post reported.
‘We expected this to be a challenging quarter … but it was made even tougher by several additional factors,’ Campbell Chief Executive Officer Mark Clouse said.
The company also expects sale to fall at least 3 percent.