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Andy Warhol, Campbell's Soup Cans: Why is this Art?

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In this video which investigates the significance of Andy Warhol's iconic Campbell's soup can paintings, academics from Khan Academy explore the provocative intersection of commercialism and pop art. Which forces us to ask -- what is art? 

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While at first, the genre of Pop Art may seem to idealize popular culture by elevating images of ordinary objects to the same height as renaissance sculptures or impressionist painting. But, a second visit may offer a critique of the mass marketing practices and consumer culture that emerged in the United States after World War II. 

The years following World War II saw immense growth in the American economy, which brought about a consumer culture with more free time and disposable income than ever before. The expanded manufacturing industry, began to mass-produce everything from toothbrushes to shiny new cars, which advertisers claimed would bring ultimate happiness to their owners. Notably, the development of the tv, as well as changes in print advertising, placed new emphasis on graphic images and recognizable brand logos—something that we now take for granted.

In this artistic and cultural context, Pop artists established their distinctive style of the early 1960s, characterized by clearly rendered pop culture images, which challenged the standards of modern painting, which had adopted abstraction as a reflection of universal truths and individual expression.

For more information on Modern Art, you can check out the excellent articles, videos and resources Khan Academy offers here »



Avatar for Doyeon Park
I am a bit torn on this and still can't decide on an answer. I understand that art is a freedom of expression and it is a way of conveying human imagination to the audience. It can inspire people in so many ways. But, is it still art if it involves inflicting pain in another or yourself? For example, tattoos are painful but the end result or the design that people mark themselves with is viewed something that is aesthetic. Also, If someone killed another and called it art, would it be art nonetheless? I know that art shouldn't be formed into an excuse for morally wrong behaviors but isn't that still a form of expression?
07/05/2015 • 
 7 Responses
 / 7 Updates
Avatar for Sid Kaskey
Sid Kaskey • Miami, FL, United States • LESSON IN PROGRESS
When does an explanation become an excuse? Is art whatever an artist or a gallery owner decides is art? Current "art" demands skepticism or at the very least aggressive questions. Warhol's [certainly Dumchap's] "art" demands the queries. Is current art one commodity where the wealthy can store their wealth? And is the value of this storage medium ephemeral? Before you condemn my questions at least take a moment to view someone else's skeptical report http://www.cbsnews.com/videos/yesbut-is-it-art/
06/28/2015 • 
 1 Response
 / 1 Updates
Avatar for Ariana Holley
Although I've seen Warhol's soup cans before, the video really sparked something in me. A lot of modern art that I see is of normal subjects that no one would otherwise pay attention to. It's the same way in fashion as well-a minimalist look is now in style (which I'm a fan of), and it somehow has an appeal, in spite of how plain it is: mom jeans, plain black or white t-shirts and shoes that cover only the bare essentials. Why do you think that our society is finding such appeal in plain things?
06/26/2015 • 
 3 Responses
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Avatar for Pablo Nava Vieyra
We express thing trough art. But as many things human does, we don't value, at least not economically until we have some type of extern and serious validation that says: "This is right/What you are doing is right". Somehow all this related with the fact we go to University for a career and until we suceed over it we can say to others with all security that we excell in what we studied because the University gave me this paper that says so. But artist nowdays just are confident enough to say: This piece is an artpiece and you should agree.
06/20/2015 • 
 1 Response
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Avatar for Nick Drake
06/17/2015 • 
 1 Response
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Avatar for Adrian Martinez
yes, someone taped a banana on a wall, and sold it for 120,00 dollars. there is no limits, spill some milk and call it a master piece. What other things can you call art
03/19/2020 • 
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Avatar for Sid Kaskey
Sid Kaskey • Miami, FL, United States • LESSON IN PROGRESS
In essence, in our world at this time in history, "artist" are social con artist. They metaphorically pull a rabbit [i.e., they take ANYTHING] out a hat [present it as a piece of "art work"] and convince others to buy the rabbit. And, as someone noted above, those "others" are the wealthy among us seeking a method of storing their wealth. Once something has been labeled as "Art" by the cognoscenti than has the "license" to be classified as "Art" and becomes a valuable commodity . A very good book on the subject is :The $12 Million Stuffed Shark.
03/20/2020 • 
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