When Los Angeles gallerists Irving Blum and Walter Hopps offered a young Andy Warhol his first-ever solo painting show, they thought it would be a sensation.
They were wrong. Local critics panned it; the Los Angeles Times went so far as to publish a snarky cartoon of two barefoot beatniks contemplating Warhol’s Campbell’s soup paintings. “Frankly, the cream of asparagus does nothing for me,” says one, “but the terrifying intensity of the chicken noodle gives me a real Zen feeling.” A nearby gallery tried to capitalize on the outrage by setting up a window display of Campbell’s soup, accompanied by the sign: “Get the real thing for only 29 cents a can.”
But Hopps wasn’t deterred. Ever since his first visit to Warhol’s studio, he was certain that the ghostly pale, silver-wigged artist was something special.