Pop Art Exhibition: The American Supermarket

By the mid-1960s, Pop artists had become superstars, and many collaborated on an exhibition called The American Supermarket held at the Bianchini Gallery in New York from October 6 to November 7, 1964.

The exhibition featured everything from chrome cabbages, wax tomatoes, and plaster leaves of pumpernickel bread by Robert Watts; cakes, cookies, and candies by Claes Oldenburg; a 3-D turkey by Tom Wesselmann; and an entire case of handpainted wax "meats." Roy Lichtenstein's image of a turkey and Andy Warhol's Campbell's Soup can image were silkscreened on shopping bags which sold for $2 - a true "American Pop Art Store."

A pivotal event was the 1964 exhibit The American Supermarket, a show held in Paul Bianchini's Upper East Side gallery. The show was presented as a typical U.S. small supermarket environment, except that everything in it from the produce, canned goods, meat, posters on the wall, etc. were created by six prominent pop artists of the time including the controversial (and like-minded) Billy Apple, Mary Inman, and Robert Watts. Warhol's painting of a can of Campbell's soup cost $1,500 while each autographed can sold for $6. The exhibit was one of the first mass events that directly confronted the general public with both pop art and the perennial question of what art is (or of what is art and what is not)