Who Gets To Call It Soup?

Los Angeles Times art critic Christopher Knight had a charming and brilliant article in the paper the other day on why Andy Warhol chose to make art out of Campbell’s soup cans.

Mr. Knight argues that the soup inspiration came from Abstract Expressionist painter Willem de Kooning, who was known to call his and everyone else’s art “soup.” Mr. Knight writes:

Soup was essential studio slang, the conversational lingo among New York School painters when they talked about their work.

Specifically, soup was the metaphor used by Willem de Kooning — the most successful artist of the era — to characterize his robust Abstract Expressionism. If soup worked for him, why not for Warhol?

Later in the article, Mr. Knight quotes Mr. De Kooning, from the 1960 film “Sketchbook No. 1: Three Americans”:

“Everything is already in art,” the painter gently demurs. “Like a big bowl of soup. Everything is in there already, and you stick your hand in and you find something for you.”

What if we started calling art soup? What would this mean for Rirkrit Tiravanija?

The Observer is fond of the idea of replacing all references to “art” with “soup,” and enjoys pondering what would result. A documentary about legendary Metropolitan Museum of Art (aka Metropolitan Museum of Soup) curator Henry Geldzahler is called “Who Gets to Call It Art?” We think “Who Gets To Call It Soup?” is infinitely more appealing.

The Observer, in a previous incarnation, wrote an article called “The Art of the Deal.” Here’s to “The Soup of the Deal.” Yum.

Who Gets To Call It Soup?