Andy Warhol and Mick Jagger first met in 1963, when the lead singer of the Rolling Stones met the artist at a party during the band's tour. Warhol was known to be very social and a frequent partier, as was Jagger. This would set to tone for their personal and professional relationship. The two worked together for the first time on the album art for the Rolling Stones album Sticky Fingers in 1971. Jagger approached Warhol to design the cover for the upcoming album. The cover art for Sticky Fingers features a closeup of the crotch of a man wearing a tight fitting pair of pants. Warhol's fascination with the human body and the Stones' sex and rock n' roll image fit perfectly together and the two creators agreed to collaborate again.
This kicked off the beginning of a productive and collaborative relationship between the two artists. A few years later in 1975, Warhol printed a portfolio of ten screenprint portraits of Mick Jagger. Each one captures the singer in various expressions and poses, showcasing Jagger's famous looks and bad boy persona. The portraits feature blocks of opaque color sometimes covering parts of Jagger's face, as well as a sketched line quality to them, all hallmarks of Warhol's distinct art style. Warhol at this time was already obsessed with the idea of fame and celebrity. The Rolling Stones were hugely popular and touring around the world by this point, making Jagger a perfect subject for Warhol's artistic exploration.
In the summer of 1975, Jagger and his wife Bianca rented Warhol's Long Island home and stayed with the artist for a period of time. The three hung out together and it was during this time that Warhol shot his first photographs of Jagger, attempting to capture the man's illustrious personality. Warhol said of Jagger: "He’s androgynous enough for almost anyone. That’s always been his basic appeal, mixed with the facts that: 1 – He’s very talented; 2 – He’s very intelligent; 3 – He’s very handsome; 4 – He’s very adorable.”
Jagger also greatly admired Warhol, stating after his death: “The thing that he seemed to be able to do was to capture society, whatever part of it he wanted to portray, pretty accurately. That’s one of the things artists do, is show people later on what it was like.” The two artists held a mutual respect and love for each other that was clear to see. Both had magnetic personalities and incredible creative vision. Today, we get to enjoy the artistic fruits of their relationship through Polaroids and screenprint portraits.
Andy Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup Cans are perhaps the most well-known images of American modern art. Initially created as a series of thirty two canvases in 1962, the soup cans gained international acclaim as a breakthrough in Pop Art. When the paintings were first exhibited in that year, they were displayed together like products at a grocery store. Each soup can corresponded to a different flavor and resembled the actual image of the red and white Campbell’s Soup cans. Though they appeared identical to the well-known grocery items, the artist’s handiwork was evident through the slight variations in the lettering and in the hand-stamped fluer-de-lis symbols on the bottom of each can. This juxtaposition between pure replication and the artist’s hand makes the series all the more intriguing.
Warhol’s inspiration for the series developed from his personal life. He explains “I used to drink it. I used to have the same lunch every day, for 20 years, I guess, the same thing over and over again.” This sense of repetition was definitely both internalized by the artist and embodied by commercial mass culture. Initially, the debut of the Campbell’s Soup Cans was widely contested as many viewers struggled to grapple with such flagrant appropriation of a commonplace object. However, Warhol would take the themes of repetition and mass production further by creating two portfolios of Campbell’s Soup Can screen prints in 1968.
The screen print portfolios Campbell’s Soup Cans I and Campbell’s Soup Cans II were created in 1968 and 1969 respectively. Each portfolio contains 10 screen prints and corresponds with the paintings and were one of the first portfolios to be published through Factory Additions, a company Warhol created to distribute his prints. The mechanical photo silk-screen process would further erase any trace of the artist’s hand and create a level of precision matching the design of the cans. This is an interesting adaptation of a medium which was typically used for producing advertisements. Warhol deliberately used the associations with the medium to make viewers question what qualifies a true work of art. The motivation behind the screenprints is succinctly summarized by Warhol’s famous words: “I want to be a machine.” Truly, this series of prints are Warhol’s most uniform and mechanical images he ever produced. Soon after, this type of printmaking became Warhol’s signature medium .