Robert Watts, ‘Yam Flug/5 to 5’, 1963, Dean Borghi Fine Art

Perforated sheet of postage stamps.
These stamps were created for the iconic American Supermarket show at Bianchini Gallery in October of 1964.
“On October 6th, 1964, The American Supermarket opened at New York’s Bianchini Gallery, turning the once failing gallery into a premiere destination. The show, conceived by artist and gallerist Ben Birillo, included works by Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Richard Artschwager, Robert Watts, Tom Wesselmann, Claes Oldenburg, Billy Apple, and several other contributors. After a successful American debut that garnered media attention from LIFE magazine and The New York Times, The American Supermarket toured Europe, securing Pop Art’s reputation both nationally and abroad.
The American Supermarket was a groundbreaking event that culturally bridged the Fluxus “Happenings” to the work of the Pop artists. Historically, the show also marks the first appearance of Multiples in Pop Art, a truly unique innovation. More unusual, perhaps, was an artist – Ben Birillo – creating a show and using other artists to create work, crediting these fabricators despite their “work-for-hire” status. It is not unheard of for an artist to utilize the skills of fabricators or studio assistants – a practice that dates back to the Italian Renaissance. However, a screen-print executed by Gerard Malanga for Andy Warhol is still a Warhol, while the works created for The American Supermarket, like screen-prints of Turkeys and enameled Hot Dogs created by Roy Lichtenstein or screen-printed Campbell’s Soup Can Shopping Bags and Brillo Boxes done by Warhol, are not recognized as Ben Birillo originals, despite Birillo’s role in the creation of each object. “ -Robyn Tisman 2009
Bob Watts created a number of pieces for Ben Birillo’s show including flocked and chromed fruits and vegetables. Also to be included were a pair of stamp machines dispensing Watts’ stamps. The subject matter of the stamps was a bit risqué for the time (and this particular exhibition) so while included, were displayed in “the back room”.

Benjamin BIrillo
Bob Watts Stamps, 1964

About Robert Watts

1923-1988

Group Shows

2015
Museum of Modern Art, 
New York, NY, United States,
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