A Campbell Soup Can Night Thread (8/6)

August 6 is the birthday of artist and director Andy Warhol.

Self-Portrait 1986 Andy Warhol 1928-1987 Presented by Janet Wolfson de Botton 1996 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/T07146

You may know him as they guy who painted a bunch of Campbell Soup cans. He also painted Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley and Prince.

Warhol had silk-screen 32 of the Campbell soup cans on 20″ x 16″ canvases. They were originally displayed in a single line like you’d see on a supermarket shelf. Each can had a unique label. In creating the images, Warhol used his experience as a commercial illustrator. His work helped define the pop art movement of the 1960’s.

Andy Warhol was also a Batman fan.

It’s theorized that Warhol turned to soup cans because he’d originally wanted to repurpose comic strip art, but decided to avoid that when Roy Lichtenstein came up with the same idea. A friend suggest he create an art series for something you’d see every day, and thus the Campbell Soup can paintings were born. That doesn’t mean that he would abandon the creation of fan works though.

In 1964 Warhol directed a movie called Batman Dracula, which was exhibited at The Factory (Warhol’s art studio).  The first ever Batman fan film? Perhaps. It does predate Jerry Warren’s 1966 Wild, Wild World of Batwoman (as seen on MST3K), James Batman and Alyas Batman at Robin — the latter two being from the Philippines. (The Philippines would even release a Batman Fights Dracula, though I don’t know if the director was at all familiar with Warhol’s version.) I’m pretty sure he beat DC Comics to the crossover between the world’s greatest detective and the world’s most famous vampire, though.

This 120 minute film doesn’t exist anymore. The use of Batman was unauthorized, and it’s likely DC Comics had Warhol destroy all existing copies.  The only footage left are some clips found in the possession of one of the deceased actors.

DC did invite Warhol — along with other hepcats like Lichtenstein and Roddy McDowall — to a preview of the Adam West Batman TV show though at a “cocktail and frug party” two years later. According to Glen Weldon’s The Caped Crusade, they didn’t find it at all amusing… but they did cheer at the Corn Flakes commercial.