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Banksy’s 2005 Soup Can, an obvious nod to Andy Warhol’s Pop prints, depicts the now defunct range of Tesco cream of tomato soup. Contrary to Warhol’s homage to the endlessly reproduced images of consumer society, here Banksy offers a biting criticism of the supermarket giant that has come to take over the contemporary marketplace.
The print is closely related to the 2006 edition, Soup Can Quad which shows four cans of the same flavour soup – as opposed to Warhol’s range of 32 flavours – illustrating the stark reality and monotony of surviving on a tight budget. These cans feature gold tops, as if to signify the wealth they bring to a select number of shareholders rather than to the consumer.
Printed in three colours on a cream background, the print also evokes the vintage aesthetic that is now called upon by supermarkets such as Tesco to sell British products. Not the first of Banksy's prints to criticise Tesco, his mural Very Little Helps, a reference to the Tesco slogan ‘Every Little Helps,’ is considered to be one of the most famous murals in London and remains preserved, now covered by Perspex.
Banksy's original Soup Can screenprint was released in 2005 and published by Pictures on Walls. The artist's soup cans are now considered to be amongst his most iconic and recognisable artworks. A total edition of 300 (50 signed and 250 Soup Can unsigned prints) was released for this version. Soup Can was later released in 28 colour variations with 10 signed prints of each colour, resulting in 280 signed prints in total.