Andy Warhol made a comment about consumer packaged goods that IMHO is even more insightful than that infamous quote about the future of fame. Here’s what he said:
“Everybody owns a piece of Coke. What’s great about this country is that 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 know that the President drinks Coca Cola, Liz Taylor drinks Coca Cola, and just think, you can drink Coca Cola, too. 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.” —Andy Warhol
Forget the outdated Liz Taylor reference and look past the “bum” faux pas. The sentiment still applies. Iconic CPG brands are indeed a great equalizer. If you don’t believe me, reread it again and replace Liz with Beyoncé and refer to the bum as an Instagram star. Of course, Warhol began his career as a commercial artist so it’s no surprise he viewed everyday staples as art and produced a range of work that reflects that philosophy. In this issue, we’ll take a look at some other examples of iconic packaging created through the decades by Charles Biondi.
Part of Warhol’s genius is there are many ways to interpret his “CPG-themed” paintings. Was he commenting on our blatant consumerism? Bridging that gap between high (invaluable art) and low (the products we buy)? Whatever his intentions, his art tells a complex story in a seemingly simplistic way. Effective packaging does the same and sometimes in the process becomes a significant part of our cultural landscape.