according to andy warhol, we should create art for the masses


Photo: V. Slotto


according to andy warhol, we should create art for the masses
a tanka

paint that can of soup
beauty in the produce aisle
touch the smooth texture
revel in green orange and red
art on display everywhere

When I was a docent at the Nevada Museum of Art, I was especially impressed by the life and art of Andy Warhol, whose goal was to create art for the populace. I liked to challenge the school children to discover art all around them–for example in the grocery store.

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I’m adding an older poem that I wrote at the time of the exhibit. It’s been around, but for those who haven’t read it…


Maybe Andy was on
to something.
screen-printed cans—
Campbell’s soup:
red and white,
silver and gray,
navy blue with a gold seal.
An icon of comfort in
the midst of so much dismay.
Tomato, Chicken Noodle,
Split Pea,
Bean with Bacon, Pepper Pot.
Mother’s Milk, Mother’s Comfort.
Bring it on.

Did you ever stop?
Really look at art?
I mean art in a grocery store?
“Wake up!”
Andy would say.
Listen closely.”

I pick up a navel orange.
Its dimpled skin
leaves a scent-mark
on my fingers.

“If you want to know me,
look at my art,”
“I’m a deeply superficial person.”

So I stare at him,
but he doesn’t glance back.
Eyes drifting to some
far-away place where
wholeness waits,
or to a party where
touching never held room
for emptiness.
The pull of gravity so great
the Mass collapses in
on itself,
Black Hole. Black Whole.

All that sparkles is
not diamond dust.
Even that wouldn’t adhere.
Your world
became glittered in so
much plastic.

Redemption plays in
pink and yellow
electric chairs.

Curl up,
snuggle in its lap
and die alone
while the nurse who
was there for you,

Oh my God,
I am heartily sorry,
So much pain.
I repeat, I repeat.
Marilyn in
black and gray
and brown,
blue and pink.
We are heartily sorry
who we aren’t,
what we are
and what they made us.

The woman handed
the boy
a piece of dense bread.
“It’s dry,” he said.
“Dunk it in your soup,”
she answered.



38 thoughts on “according to andy warhol, we should create art for the masses

  1. He did you a huge disservice, Lorna. If I ever visit your area or vice versa we will have to change that.


  2. Mary says:

    Andy Warhol’s art is interesting, and your poem expresses that. To find art in a ‘soup can’ really is no small thing. But, yes, I do think we can all find art in a grocery store if we look. So many shapes and colors. We can all ‘revel’ (your word) in the things that Warhol observed if we try & perhaps gain a deeper appreciation of what Warhol was about.


  3. wolfsrosebud says:

    Victoria… cooking is an art in itself… a plus when it comes from one’s own garden


  4. I was a bit off-put by the title, Warhol was way beyond his time. I absolutely love where you took the poem though. Great write!


  5. Ah.. i go to the mall at least once a week and buy not a thing.. but marvel in all the emotional art of human being designed around a motive of selling.. but still the art of it i can separate and volume into photos of artistic beauty from the ‘T and A’ at ‘Victoria’s Secret’ to
    Dick’s Sporting goods.. in all the inspirational
    quotes from the REAL PHILOSOPHY
    OF SPORTS that is a microcosm
    of the human being
    Spirit of living
    life wild
    And Warhol will
    be proud
    of me..
    At least.. he will
    like you..
    my friend..:)


  6. Sumana Roy says:

    we only need to open our eyes to all the colors and forms around us…nicely put….


  7. Oh I love this a lot.. art should be available and accessible.. it should sparkle and give joy… there is also some humor that I find relieving, and of course the art of still-life in reality appeals a lot to me.


  8. Beauty is indeed in the eye of the beholder! I don’t know much about Andy Warhol – apart from soup cans and Marilyn – so you have deepened my appreciation a lot. 🙂


  9. I do look for art everywhere – but tend to find it more in nature. The works of man tend so often to be flawed.


  10. lynn__ says:

    The master Artist’s fingerprints are all around us, if we just look…i like to gaze on the beauty of home canned food in jars too 🙂


  11. claudia says:

    there’s so much art around us – def. we just need to wake and see… i read about andy warhol in connection with my research on jean-michel basquiat… very interesting


  12. shadowleavesonlakeann says:

    Excellent writing ~
    “We are heartily sorry
    who we aren’t,
    what we are
    and what they made us.”

    The dichotomy of this life ~ all illusions of how we see what we are & what we wish we were


  13. Truedessa says:

    I think there is art around us all the time. We just need to look through a different lens to capture it. A smile, tears, laughter all art in a unique way.


  14. DELL CLOVER says:

    I can appreciate art in the grocery store/market–and gosh, you made me hungry for some bean with bacon soup!!


  15. kanzensakura says:

    At one time, between doing autopsy photography and being a photographic assistant, I did freelance food styling and photography. it is indeed true how the grocery store can be an art exhibit if we only slow down and look. Excellent poem and lovely intelligent layers.


    • Thank you. When I was a student nurse, attending autopsies was not my favorite part of training. But then, they were on patients for whom I had cared. I think the eye of a photographer is much like that of a poet. There is beauty in all the details of the human body, even in death.


      • kanzensakura says:

        Yes, it is. This was part of duties for the city coroner so I did not know the people, which made it easier. I wasn’t chosen for my talent but because out of 30 applicants, I was one of 10 that didn’t faint or throw up…..but it was hard at times.

        Liked by 1 person

  16. Glenn Buttkus says:

    One of the great joys of my photography excursions is that my eye finds Art at every turn, patina, antiques, seedlings in dead stumps, chains & padlocks, trains, old cars, the geometry of the environment; all splashed with vivd colors; & yes, food porn, & super market shots count too. Thanks for both poems, giving me some insight into Warhol, whom I’ve always felt was overrated.


  17. I like the idea of art in the grocery store or at the farmers’ market. There’s so much color in produce. Peace, Linda


  18. Grace says:

    I like the idea of the art appealing to the popular mass ~ Maybe he was on to something as his artwork still endures to this day ~ Thanks for joining us Victoria ~


  19. X says:

    Wake up indeed. Our world is full of art, of beauty to take in for a moment and then release back into the wild. I do think andy was onto something.


  20. No matter what form art takes, it feels out of reach to me. There is an elitist quality to even those canvases painted two colors that hang in art galleries. What do they mean? I offer something by way of my interpretation and I am immediately criticized by every art critic (aptly named) who hears me. Is that soup can really a soup can? I dare not venture a guess… 😉


    • It makes me sad to think that art critics or docents wouldn’t take the time to teach how to look at art. I believe that WHATEVER someone finds in a painting or whatever is valid because it is their point of view. I enjoyed seeing how many ways viewers, especially children, could find something different in a piece of art. Because Warhol started out doing advertising prints for magazines, I think that’s why his work took the direction it did. What’s fun for me in his work is to see how the various colors he used in his silk screens created such different moods. For example, the Marilyns–I liked to ask the students which one they would want in their bedroom and why. It all had to do with the meaning of color. To me, it’s deadly to squash someone’s interpretation–it can turn them off of the whole world of art forever.

      Liked by 2 people

      • See, I need someone like you to visit a gallery with me. I had to write a paper about a painting in college. The prof told me that my interpretation was wrong. Wrong? I didn’t think it could be wrong! ARG!

        Liked by 1 person

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