Andy Warhol first depicted
But Warhol wanted to break into the world of “real artists.” He dreamed of having his own artwork featured in New York galleries. Naturally, when he wanted to transition from illustrations to oil paintings, he utilised the subject matter he was most familiar with: consumer products such as
Ten years after he first took on the
'What's great about this country is that America started the tradition where the richest consumers buy essentially the same things as the poorest... All the Cokes are the same and all the Cokes are good. Liz Taylor knows it, the President knows it, the bum knows it, and you know it.' (Warhol, Andy. The Philosophy of Andy Warhol: From A to B and Back Again. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1975, pg. 100)
Warhol created original works of art for other TIME magazine covers over the years, from a story featuring his artwork on “Today’s Teenagers” in 1965, to celebrity covers featuring Michael Jackson in 1984 and Lee Iacocca in April 1985. Given the success of this commission, he was able to land one for the 1985 launch of New Coke, set to be on the June cover just a few months after the initial product launch in April.
He discussed the controversial announcement of the release of New Coke with his biographer Pat Hackett:
“Wednesday April 24, 1985. The big news on TV is that Coke is changing their formula. Why would they do that? It doesn’t make sense. They could’ve just come out with a new product and left Coke alone. It seems crazy. And all the TV new shows love it, they’re doing all these stories of people sitting around taste-testing.” (Warhol, Andy, and Pat Hackett. The Andy Warhol Diaries. 1989, pg. 1903)
Warhol reflected on the release of New Coke on the 24th and, just five days later, he notes in his diaries that the TV commercial he shot for Diet Coke featuring the “Just for the Taste of It” tagline had been seen by friends and that he was featured prominently.
The archives at The Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh houses an invitation Warhol received to sample New Coke at the trendy Limelight Club on Aug. 20, 1985. He also received a box from The
After he was able create the “Coke Spill” effect, he took Polaroids of the can and the spill and had the chosen photograph turned into the mesh screen for the final cover design. Warhol added ink in his signature bright Pop colors to the screen, utilizing the classic red, white and blue American color palette for the New Coke can, and an ombre effect from brown to red to orange for the New Coke spill. The squeegee imprinted the ink onto the paper, and he adhered glue to the mesh areas of the screen where he did not want ink to pass through, to create negative space. He continued this process of inking the squeegee and passing it through the mesh screen to create the array of colors utilized in this work and outlined the spill in a eye-catching yellow to emphasise the contrast of the dark red “New Coke.”