210 Coca-Cola Bottles, 1962 Here an icon of American consumer culture is rendered with Warhol's characteristic "no-comment" mechanical style. The bottles strict order reflects the industrial process itself, while the repetitiousness mirrors the its ubiquity. Warhol commented on the implications of such products in The Philosophy of Andy Warhol (1975):
. . .America started the tradition where the richest consumers buy essentially the same things as the poorest. You can be watching TV and see Coca-Cola, and you can know that the President drinks Coke, Liz Taylor drinks Coke, and just think, you can drink Coke, too.... All the Cokes are the same and all the Cokes are good.
In all that has been written about Warhol, one of the most frequently referenced incidents is his decision to solicit advice from both friends and art experts about where he should be heading artistically. As the story goes, Warhol would show two painted versions of his Coca-Cola bottle, one version derived from the principles of abstract expressionism, a high-energy interpretation complete with drippings of paint. The other version was the polished and depersonalized commercial icon.
Gallery director Ivan Karp told Warhol pointedly he preferred the latter, that, in fact, the only paintings of his that were worth anything were the "cold straightforward works." And Warhol reported that Emile De Antonio, a film maker who had helped Robert Rauchenberg and Jasper Johns, gave him the same advice:
"One of these is a piece of shit, simply a little bit of everything. The other is remarkableit's our society, it's who we are, it's absolutely beautiful and naked . . . ." That afternoon was an important one for me.
Warhol heeded his friends' advice and continued his practice of soliciting ideas from others.
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