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The Coca-Cola Bottle as Art

Actress Kate Bosworth, filmmaker Michael Polish, and Coca-Cola archivist Ted Ryan review design mashups featuring bottle iconography. (Getty Images)

On a recent visit to the High Museum in Atlanta, I was pleasantly inspired by artwork created in honor of a beverage that I do not drink. Despite my abstinence, I cannot deny that the Coca-Cola bottle is part of the visual landscape of our world with its iconic shape, logo and lettering. Even that color red says Coke from miles away. My favorite part of the exhibit was a wall of posters which graphic designers from around the world have created expressing the spirit of the brand. Apparently, the posters will be rotated during the exhibit allowing hundreds of images to be displayed over the course of the eight month show.

(Getty Images)

from the High Museum website, high.org:

“The Coke Bottle is…well thought out, logical, sparing of material and pleasant to look at. The most perfect fluid wrapper
of the day and one of the classics in packaging history.”

— Raymond Loewy, June 22nd 1971

Andy Warhol (American, 1928-1987) Three Coke Bottles, 1962 Silkscreen, ink, and graphite on linen The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburg Founding Collection, Contribution The Andy Warhol Foundation for Visual Arts, Inc., 1998.1.20 © 2015 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

The Coca-Cola Bottle: An American Icon at 100 explores the iconic design and creative legacy of the Coca-Cola bottle. Presented on the occasion of the bottle’s centennial, the exhibition features more than 100 objects, including more than 15 works of art by Andy Warhol and more than 40 photographs inspired by or featuring the bottle.

Esther Bubley (American, 1921-1998) Coca-Cola Wall, Texas, 1945 Collection of Joyce Linker Esther Bubley was one of a handful of photographers hired by the Farm Security Administration (FSA), an organization established by the United States government in 1935 in the devastating wake of the Great Depression. The FSA’s photographers were hired to report on the plight of poor farmers, and document the New Deal’s efforts to help them. Many of these powerful images, which were widely distributed in publications and exhibitions at the time, remain iconic visualizations of American struggle and endurance and served to popularize the careers of some of our nation’s most notable photographers.

Visitors will have the opportunity to view original design illustrations, historical artifacts and a century of experimentation with the Coca-Cola bottle, which has enticed multiple generations and billions of people worldwide and inspired numerous artists since its inception in 1915. Photographers such as Walker Evans and William Christenberry documented the Coca-Cola bottle’s universal presence in the cultural landscape of 20th century America. The Coca-Cola bottle also helped spur Warhol’s pioneering shift to his breakthrough pop art style.

Imogen Cunningham (American, 1883-1976) Ansel Adams in a Truck, Yosemite Valley, 1953 Gelatin silver print Collection of Joyce Linker Celebrated as one of the great portrait photographers of the 20th century, Imogen Cunningham explored a diverse range of subjects and styles over the course of her long career. Cunningham, along with fellow photographer Ansel Adams, pictured here, founded the f/64 group in 1932. The group rejected a soft-focus pictorial style in favor of photographs that emphasized “clearness and definition.” This casual shot of Adams, shown sitting in a truck and enjoying a Coca-Cola in the Yosemite Valley, captures the intimacy of their lifelong friendship.

Organized by the High in collaboration with The Coca-Cola Company, the exhibition will be presented in two floors of the High’s Anne Cox Chambers wing. As visitors enter the exhibition gallery in the first-floor lobby, they will encounter more than 500 contemporary 3-D printed bottles suspended from the ceiling that reference the Coca-Cola bottle’s iconic design. The second floor displays will feature three main areas: a section focused on the design history of the bottle, a pop art section with more than 15 works by Warhol, and a photography section including works from the High’s permanent collection.

Cola Sign by Thurston Howes $400

If you’re in Atlanta before October 4, 2015, stop in and check it out!


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