Did Coca-Cola Turn Warhol Into a Pop Artist? A New Whitney Show Looks at the Artist’s Early and Lesser-Known Works

artnetNews | Javier Pes

“You’ll see Warhol before he became Warhol—when he was Andy Warhola,” promises Donna De Salvo, the Whitney’s senior curator and deputy director for international initiatives, who is organizing the New York museum’s sure-fire blockbuster of work by the late Pop artist. But if you’re going to devote three floors of the museum plus a film season to Warhol, there had better be some surprises, she recognizes. De Salvo is ready for the challenge. “I know the Warhol terrain, so I am very conscious that it has to be an exhibition that challenges perceptions,” she tells artnet News. Among the 200 works due to be featured will be some much less well known ones, including experimental pieces he never showed.

Arriving in New York from his native Pittsburgh in 1949, Warhol began his career in advertising. At the time, Madison Avenue was increasingly technological, while the art world was obsessed with originality and the authenticity of the hand-made mark. De Salvo says that the exhibition will show how the 1950s were “foundational” for the young artist and how aware he was of changes going on around him. “He could see the big money Coke was spending on photography so that its drink did not look like mud,” De Salvo says, which partly spurred his move from commercial art into the equally competitive world of fine art. “Warhol could see that the illustration work was going to dry up,” she says. Always one step ahead, Warhol created his famous series of Coca-Cola silkscreens in the early 1960s. (The Whitney owns a 1962 classic, Green Coca-Cola Bottles.)…read more

Image: Andy Warhol, Green Coca-Cola Bottles (1962)