“Type two dia-booties,” one judge commented. More puns prevailed. “Looks like children of the corn chowder,” Ru offered after the queen Trixie Mattel strutted out in a can labeled “Pep/Abysmal.”
The competition cattily subverted Warhol’s original intent with his “Campbell’s Soup Cans” series, first exhibited in 1962. The artist transformed mundane American products and advertising into valuable paintings, infusing galleries with the everyday. Alternately, the Drag Race queens reimagined the cans as vehicles for self-expression: simple objects that once signified mass consumption became exquisite, deeply personal costumes.
One wonders what Warhol might think about all of this. More precious artists might shiver at the thought of reality television co-opting their oeuvre. Yet the show extends Warhol’s celebrity and influence in a way he’d probably applaud. Last night, he received nearly three times the typically allotted 15 minutes of fame. Warhol created a brand, persona, and ethos that continues to reach new audiences in vivid and unexpected new ways. His outsize, ever-expanding legacy is perhaps the artist’s greatest coup.