An exhibition exploring the iconic design and creative legacy of the Coca-Cola bottle will open at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta this month. “The Coca-Cola Bottle: An American Icon at 100” 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.
Opening Feb. 28 and on view through Oct. 4, 2015, the exhibition will provide visitors the opportunity to view original design illustrations, historical artifacts and a century of experimentation with the Coca-Cola bottle, which has become one of the world’s most recognized icons since its inception in 1915.
Originally designed by the Root Glass Company in Terre-Haute, Ind., the bottle offered a distinct package for an already ubiquitous product launched in 1886. The design was the result of a competition that challenged bottle manufacturers to develop a container recognizable even if broken on the ground or touched in the dark. The winning design’s subtle curves and green-tinted glass ultimately had an outstanding impact on 20th-century visual art and culture.
The bottle, which has enticed multiple generations and billions of people worldwide, has also inspired numerous artists. 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.
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 may interact with more than 500 contemporary 3-D printed bottles suspended from the ceiling, which were created by Conran and Partners and reference the iconic shape of the famous Coca-Cola package.
The second floor displays will feature three main areas:
- A section taking visitors through the design history of the bottle, which includes a rare 1915 prototype; original drawings and patents; an early plastic version of the bottle from the late 1960s; and the first aluminum version of the bottle from 2005, many of which are on loan from The Coca-Cola Company’s extensive archives. Also included in this section is a “mash-up,” salon-style presentation of posters by contemporary designerswho have re-imagined the bottle for the 21st century.
- The Pop Art section includes more than 15 works by Warhol, many on loan from The Andy Warhol Museum, showcasing the artist’s fascination with the bottle. The works, ranging in media from painting, collage, drawing, photography, film and sculpture, demonstrate Warhol’s appreciation of the Coca-Cola bottle as a uniquely American symbol. Highlights include a 1962 silkscreen, “Three Coke Bottles,” and three of the artist’s famous screen tests, including one featuring musician Lou Reed with a bottle.
- In the photography section, more than 15 images by Christenberry from the High’s permanent collection will accompany photographs by Evans, Berenice Abbott, Imogen Cunningham, Alfred Eisenstaedt, Clarence John Laughlin, Helen Levitt, Abelardo Morell, Peter Sekaer, Ben Shahn and Marion Post Wolcott, among others. The photographs track the enduring presence of the Coca-Cola bottle within the rapidly changing cultural landscape of 20th- and 21st-century America. They document the bottle’s role in daily life through scenes captured in Atlanta, New Orleans, New York City, Yosemite Valley and several small towns across the American South.