Soup Can Banksy
Depicting a single can of cream of tomato soup can with the familiar branding of the now defunct Tesco Value range, Banksy’s Soup Can is an obvious nod to Andy Warhol’s famous 1962 series of Campbell’s Soup Can paintings that were later produced as prints. Contrary to Warhol’s homage to the endlessly reproduced images of consumer society, here Banksy offers a biting criticism of the supermarket giant who 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 flavours – showing 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 evokes the vintage aesthetic that is now called upon by supermarkets such as Tesco to sell British products. Banksy had criticised Tesco before, in a mural entitled Very Little Helps, a reference to the Tesco slogan ‘Every Little Helps’. The work is considered to be one of the most famous murals in London and remains preserved, now covered by Perspex. It depicts a flagpole from which flies a plastic Tesco carrier bag while below two children are pledging allegiance. Here Banksy denounces the omnipresence of the Tesco supermarkets, with their openly stated desire to establish even more stores in the country and to rival small independent greengrocers.
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.