Warhol’s early work was based primarily on advertisements and commercial design which targeted the majority rather than the affluent minority. Campbell’s Soup cans, Brillo Boxes and Coca-Cola bottles became common motifs in Warhol’s iconography of consumerism and globalisation, and the mechanical silk-screening process meant prints could be churned out of the ironically named Factory almost as fast as the products themselves were made in the industrial complexes of the American sprawl.

Marilyn Monroe international womens day

Warhol’s Marilyn (F. & S. II.31)

Over 85,000 editioned artworks are estimated to have been created by Warhol and his assistants during his career. From 1962 Warhol became not so much an artist but a brand, creating endless multiples of images that were appealing to him because they were already widely known – and loved – by  contemporary society, such as the Coca-Cola bottle, a symbol so resonant that he declared, “A Coke is a Coke and no amount of money can get you a better Coke than the one the bum on the corner is drinking. All the Cokes are the same and all the Cokes are good. Liz Taylor knows it, the President knows it, the bum knows it, and you know it.”

What was Andy Warhol’s first painting?

Warhol’s earliest works include Superman and False Plate, both completed in 1981 entirely freehand as part of the Myths Series. They mark the legendary artist’s transition from an in-demand illustrator for various magazines and catalogues at the time, to a contemporary Pop Artist.

It was from 1962 onward that the artist began his experimentations with projecting and tracing images on the canvas, which was the method through which he eventually arrived at his signature silk-screening technique.

The use of symbols like Superman in these early works foreshadow the fascination with pop Americana icons that will run through Warhol’s entire oeuvre. Similarly, False Plate is inspired by consumer culture and everyday items and the language of advertisements.

Superman From Myths by Andy Warhol - Print 1981 Screen Print

Warhol’s Superman (F. & S. II.260)

What was Andy Warhol’s last painting?

One of Andy Warhol’s last works was Last Supper based on Leonardo da Vinci’s Renaissance masterpiece, completed in 1986 about a year before the artist’s death.

The artwork seems rather prophetic, touching upon key themes within Warhol’s oeuvre and personal life, such as religion, mortality, and symbolic iconography. The original artwork is the largest size ever brought to auction by the Pop Artist; it sold for $60,875,000 with Christie’s in 2017, among one of the highest prices ever achieved for Warhol’s work. This work was on display on a huge scale at Tate Modern’s Warhol retrospective in 2020.

Sixty Last Suppers by Andy Warhol - 1986

Warhol’s Sixty Last Suppers, Synthetic polymer and silkscreen ink on canvas, 1986

What is Andy Warhol’s most famous artwork?

Among Warhol’s most famous works are undeniably Campbell’s Soup Can print series created from 1962, or his Marilyn Monroe created in the same year.

The original Campbell’s Soup Can consisted of 32 canvases created through screen printing and presented a direct affront to the dominant Abstract Expressionist movement at the time through imitating processes of mechanical reproduction instead of foregrounding unique authorship.

The Marilyn Diptych consists of 50 images total based on a press image of the actress from the film Niagara and completed by Warhol in the weeks following Monroe’s tragic death.

Both of these iconic images are instantly associated with Warhol and were inspired by two main strains in his artistic practice – everyday items like coke bottles and soup cans, and famous celebrity faces, such as Elvis and Marilyn Monroe – his subjects were to be a contributing factor in making him the most famous artist of all time.

Campbell’s Soup I, Chicken Noodle Soup (F. & S. II. 45) by Andy Warhol - Serigraph Print 1964

Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup I, Chicken Noodle Soup (F. & S. II.45)

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