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Though it can be seen as a playful homage to Warhol's Campbell’s Soup series Banksy’s Soup Cans Quad can also be read as a cutting remark on the rise of poverty in our society and the ever increasing presence of the large corporations who profit from it. As opposed to Warhol’s range of flavours – from clam chowder to chicken noodle – Banksy chooses to show just four identical cans of cream of tomato soup, showing the day to day reality, not to mention the monotony, of surviving on a low income. The cans feature gold tops, as if to signify the value they hold for a select number of shareholders rather than for the consumer.
Soup Can Quad was originally published as a screen print in 2006. It came in two different varieties: 54 prints on cream paper and 12 on grey paper, all signed by the artist. The first manifestation of Banksy’s soup cans appeared in 2005 when he released 310 prints of a single can on a cream background, followed by 280 prints in 28 colourways.
Unlike many other Banksy prints, the image of the soup cans was never painted in the street, however it is closely related to his mural entitled Very Little Helps, a reference to the Tesco slogan ‘Every Little Helps’. One of Banksy’s most famous murals, it remains preserved on Essex Road in London, now covered by Perspex.