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Christie's New York to Sell a Seminal Pop Art Masterpiece by Andy Warhol at Fall Auction
Andy Warhol (1928-1987), Big Campbell's Soup Can with Can Opener (Vegetable), 72 x 52 inches. Painted in 1962. Estimate: $30,000,000-50,000,000. Photo: Christie’s Images Ltd 2010.

NEW YORK, NY.- This Autumn is the Season for Andy Warhol, thanks to an extraordinary selection of his key works. Christie’s New York leads this group with the sale of Andy Warhol’s hand-painted masterpiece, Big Campbell's Soup Can with Can Opener (Vegetable), 1962 (estimate upon request). An icon of Pop Art, it is one of the largest examples of Warhol’s most famous and beloved image of a Campbell’s Soup Can — a subject matter that helped shape the course of art history in the 1960s.

At 72 x 52 inches, Big Campbell's Soup Can with Can Opener (Vegetable) is the first in a series of very rare large scale Campbell's Soup Cans. Of the 11 large scale Campbell's Soup Can paintings, eight now reside in museums, foundations or are promised to museums, such as The Menil Collection in Houston, The Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh and The Kunsthalle in Zurich. The present lot is the most important example to come on the market in over a decade.

Warhol’s soup cans challenge the traditional boundaries of art and life as well as art and business. Warhol believed anything could be touched by art: from the mundane, such as the humble Campbell’s soup can and Brillo boxes, to ubiquitous public figures and celebrities such as Jacqueline Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe. The Campbell’s Soup can is the ultimate everyman consumer product. It is completely accessible and recognizable, making it a key icon of Pop Art. In this work, Warhol’s eponymous static soup can has been pierced by a can opener against a seamless background.

Conceived and executed in Warhol’s storied New York factory, this work has only ever been in the hands of three esteemed private collections. New York collectors Burton and Emily Tremaine purchased the work directly from the artist in 1962. In the summer of 1962 it was included in an exhibition at the Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, making it Warhol's first painting to be shown in an American museum. It then moved into the hands of Ted Ashley, the then chairman of Warner Brothers in 1972. Its current owner, Barney Ebsworth, acquired the painting in 1986. The proceeds from the painting’s sale will finance a church designed by the Japanese architect Tadao Ando.

Christie’s Post-War and Contemporary Art Deputy Chairman, Laura Paulson notes: “Warhol’s Big Campbell's Soup Can with Can Opener (Vegetable) is a cultural icon and a pivotal image that changed the face of art history. With its impeccable provenance and freshness to the market, Christie’s anticipates the painting to be the most sensational highlight of the Season.”

Other Warhols to be sold in the Christie’s Post-War and Contemporary fall 2010 auctions include: Campbell’s Soup Can (Tomato), 1962 (estimate: $6,000,000-8,000,000), Marilyn, 1962 (estimate: $4,000,000-6,000,000) and Dollar Sign, 1981, (estimate: $2,500,000-3,500,000).

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