The collection entitled, “Warhol in His Own Words: Untitled Statements (1963-87),” is a series of direct quotes from Andy Warhol, himself. In the series, published in Material Culture and Everyday Life, the audience is given an idea of why Warhol is the way he is and what his artistic goals were.
Over the course of his career, Warhol sought to portray the boring as an artistic principle. His notion of what is entertaining and appealing was in his enjoyment of repetition. He enjoyed things that repeated, things that were the exact same, over and over. As he put it, “the more you look at the same exact thing, the more the meaning goes away, and the better and emptier you feel,” (140). This ideal of what art could and should be is most evident in his work, Campbell’s Soup Cans, 1962.
In exploring a single image fully and deeply, Warhol sought to understand the true appeal of the image. His work was largely based on repeating and or accentuating an image to the point of, “boredom,” as he put it. However, unlike most, Warhol enjoyed boredom. He saw this, “boredom,” as a way to explore the meaning behind what makes an image beautiful or popular. As a former advertising artist, Warhol enjoyed depicting and exploring consumer culture, consumer art and materialism and their dynamic relationship.
Campbell’s Soup Cans, depicts Warhol’s fascination with repetition, with boredom, with consumerism and its bewildering ideal of what is beautiful. In showing the same image over and over, Warhol explores the notion that all consumerism is geared toward selling the same thing over and over; the same thing to everyone. As Warhol describes it, “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.” Every Coke is the same. Every Coke is sold to every consumer in the same manner. Every Coke is a repetition of the previous and every one is as beautiful as the next, whether the Coke is going to an actress or a homeless man, they are all equally beautiful. Similarly, every can of Campbell’s soup is beautiful. Warhol seeks to understand why this is. He seeks to understand why repetition is beautiful in consumer culture by replicating it in his work.