30yrs The Death of Art inside a Can
30yrs The Death of Art inside a Can
Limited Edition Triptych
East 66th St NYC 1987
Chromogenic Print on Aluminum
24" x 20"
Edition size: 10
A few weeks after the untimely death of Andy Warhol, artist/ photographer David Gamble had the unique opportunity to enter the artist’s NYC home in 1987 to record its contents before all went to auction. More than thirty years later, Gamble’s images form an exclusive portfolio of private moments and poignant memories; the only surviving testimony of Warhol’s last few days away from the limelight.
Warhol’s kitchen is one of the most iconic images taken by Gamble as part of this extraordinary series. The kitchen is a place where fragments tell the story of an artist whose inspiration truly came from the simplest, and yet so very important, objects of popular culture. Situated in the lower ground floor of his NYC home, the kitchen was where Andy ate every meal—a cosy and simple environment yet filled with the artist’s distinctive taste that made his artwork so vibrant and original. From the Fiesta dishware to the omnipresent Campbell Soup Can, the kitchen is a visual catalog of the colors, shapes, and rhythmic repetition that defined the artist’s body of work.
It is during this photoshoot that Gamble found the Can of Campbell Tomato Bisque stuck between the kitchen cupboard and the wall. It might have been accidentally knocked over by a cleaner who ignored the rolling sound and the muted thud that could have destined the tin for the garbage can. All food had been already removed from the cabinets in view of the property sale. It was after Gamble had left the house that his assistant gave the can to him. He had taken it in the knowledge that it would have been soon thrown out too and that it somehow felt like a special object in the context of Warhol’s life.
This very Campbell Soup can has been in Gamble’s possession ever since. As a consumable everyday object bearing an “August 1990” expiry date, the can has become the ultimate Warhol memento mori. Its ability to preserve food from decay has been extended further by the fetishization surrounding Warhol’s iconic persona, thus becoming a true pop-relic. Aware of its special aura, and its internal decay of the food inside. Gamble first photographed the can in 1997, ten years after Warhol’s death, and more recently, in 2017 to mark the 30th anniversary and it’s further visual demise.
Gamble’s images document the slow decaying of the object as its label fades and rust stains the naked metal parts. Day by day, this can becomes a ruin—a reminder that, despite all our efforts, eventually, everything erodes and disappears.
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David Gamble is a multidisciplinary artist from London, now based in New Orleans. His body of work consists of paintings, works on paper, and photographs, all of which have been exhibited globally. Throughout the 1980s and '90s, Gamble worked as one of the foremost international editorial photographers for publications such as The Observer, The Independent, LIFE, Fortune, The New Yorker, Newsweek, Paris Match, The Sunday Times, and many more.
Over his decades-long career spanning the editorial, journalistic, and fine art realms, Gamble has photographed such illustrious figures as Stephen Hawking and the Dalai Lama with several of his portraits included in the permanent collections of the National Portrait Gallery in London and the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC. In 1987, Gamble won the Kodak Award for Best Photographer in Europe as well as a World Press Photo Award in 1988 for his portrait of Stephen Hawking, which was featured as the notable cover of Hawking’s A Brief History of Time.
In 1988 Sotheby’s New York hosted one of the most talked-about auctions of the decade, the sale of the Estate of Andy Warhol. In addition to paintings and sculpture, some of the most hotly sought- after items were Warhol’s personal effects, including, décor, clothing, and even his 1974 Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow. The goal of the sale was to raise funds for the then fledgling Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.
Soon after Warhol’s death photographer David Gamble was permitted access to Warhol’s East 66th street House, Factory and Warehouse. There, he captured the placement of Warhol’s belongings as the artist had lived with them over the years. Rather than simply documenting the space, Gamble’s careful still-lifes capture the humanity and fierce individuality of the artist.