Why Did Andy Warhol Paint Coke Bottles?

Andy Warhol painted Coke bottles because they were mass produced items available worldwide, which to Warhol represented a great equalizer in American consumer society, according to the Andy Warhol Museum. Anyone who could afford to buy a Coke enjoyed the same consistent product as anyone else.

Warhol first painted images of Coke bottles in 1962. He then made silkscreen paintings of Coke bottles as an added twist to the idea behind the work. By using silkscreens, Warhol was able to mass produce the images of the bottles, which were themselves mass produced. He later used silver paint to coat the Coke bottles themselves. By painting the bottles silver, Warhol elevated them from common, everyday objects to works of art. Several years later, he filled the painted bottles with his own perfume and labelled them "You're In"/"Eau d'Andy." The Coca-Cola Company drew the line and issued a cease and desist letter.

In November 2013, one of Warhol's Coke paintings sold at auction for $57.3 million to an anonymous buyer. In 2010, another Warhol Coke piece sold for $34.5 million. The Coca-Cola Company owns about 30 pieces of Warhol's art. In addition to the Coke pieces, Warhol painted other images that became icons of mass produced items, notably Campbell's Soup Cans.