This series by Banksy reimagines Andy Warhol's Soup Cans for the disillusioned contemporary viewer. Depicting a Tesco Value soup, he implicitly mocks the corporations that drive wealth inequality, and criticises the outcome of the consumerism Warhol championed.
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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 a supermarket giant that has come to dominate the contemporary UK marketplace.
This print is closely related to the 2006 edition, Soup Can Quad, which depicts four cans of the same flavour soup – in contrast to Warhol’s range of 32 flavours. A thinly-veiled reference to the King of Pop Art, the print seeks to build an icon that references the stark reality - and monotony - of surviving on a tight budget. Banksy's cans feature gold tops - a motif that draws our attention to the wealth these commodities can bring to a select number of shareholders.
Printed in three colourways on a cream background, the edition evokes the nostalgic 'vintage' aesthetic now widely called upon by supermarkets, such as Tesco, as a means to market and sell British-made products. This work is not the first of Banksy's prints to criticise the supermarket chain Tesco: his mural Very Little Helps references the Tesco slogan ‘Every Little Helps,’ is considered to be one of the most famous murals in London. It remains preserved in its original location, 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 among his most iconic and recognisable artworks. A total edition of 300 (50 signed and 250 Soup Can unsigned prints) was issued for this variation of the work. Soup Can was later released in 28 colour variations with 10 signed prints of each colour, resulting in 280 signed prints in total.