Consumer Culture Expressed Through Contemporary Art

The browsing, selection and purchase of goods and commodities have become one of the defining activities of modern urban life. In this consumer culture, shopping has become a crucial ritual for shaping and transforming our identities. Artists have always been fascinated and intrigued by the consumer culture and the way it shapes our society. Yet, this relationship between art and the distribution and consumption of commodities has always been a complicated one.

Andy Warhol – Campbell’s Soup Cans, 1962

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“Andy Warhol famously appropriated familiar images from consumer culture and mass media, among them celebrity and tabloid news photographs, comic strips, and, in this work, the widely consumed canned soup made by the Campbell’s Soup Company. When he first exhibited Campbell’s Soup Cans in 1962, the canvases were displayed together on shelves, like products in a grocery aisle.”

This presence of well-known corporate symbols and mass-produced goods in modern art reflected the commercialization of popular culture. Common objects of our wealthy society were taken out of context and scrutinized for their symbolic value. By celebrating commonplace objects and people of everyday life, pop art aimed to elevate popular culture to the level of fine art.

Barbara Kruger – Untitled (I Shop Therefore I Am), 1987

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“Her practice of culling and editing found photographs and of pairing them with phrases in provocative ways was informed by her interest in feminism and critical theory. These investigations into the seemingly innocuous and yet potentially insidious ways in which ideological messages infiltrate daily life by means of the mass media continue today”

Banksy – Jesus Christ with Shopping Bags, 2005

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“Sometime around Christmas 2005, Banksy went around to produce the Jesus Christ with Shopping Bags stencil and screen print, as a can-it-be-more-clear call-out on consumerism.”

Ron English – billboard hijacking

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