A deeply superficial person by his own insistence, Warhol professedly concerned himself only with surface, and Donna De Salvo follows his advice in writing of his skills as a painter, shrewdly singling out the "after-image" aspect to his work. A third essay traces Warhol's similarities with Goya, while perhaps the best of the pieces, a short, unfussy study by Kirk Varnedoe, details the history of the infamous 32 Campbell's soup cans, created in 1962. Like the cans' reduced contents, Warhol's work was often highly condensed, then replicated until it assumed the proportions he required of it. In the same way, to see in either a gallery or a catalogue so many of his works is to experience a unifying sense of horror and beauty. In addition, it brings to mind not only his own influences, such as Klee, Rauschenberg, Cocteau (particularly in his early portraits of Truman Capote and James Dean), Duchamp and Grosz, but also to those who've subsequently drawn so heavily on his Pop imagery, particularly British artists like Jamie Reid and Damien Hirst.
Though defiantly anti-metaphorical, he fetishised the staples of American life, and as a lover of its icons—Coca Cola, refrigerators, Elvis, Marilyn, Jackie Kennedy, the electric chair, his own lifelong habit of self-portraiture and those soup cans—inevitably he became one. With its emphasis firmly on the pictures, this catalogue bears lavish witness to a productive vision and brilliant body of work that will only continue to grow in stature with every repetitive viewing. —David Vincent