How Blending Art and Commerce Drove Absolut Vodka’s Legendary Campaigns

Messages inspired by a bottle

Legend has it that sometime in the mid-'80s, Andy Warhol fell in love amid the pulsing lights and throbbing beats at ultra-chic New York disco Studio 54. Gazing across the bar, Warhol spied a bottle of Absolut Vodka. Modeled on classic Swedish medicine vials traditionally sold at pharmacies along with spirits, its design was simple yet elegant, the perfect fusion of form and function. Soon, the object of the pop artist's affection would become an objet d'art (and commerce) itself, epitomizing the Reagan/Bush-era obsession with artsy glamour and chic consumption in much the same way Campbell's Soup cans—a Warhol fling two decades before—came to represent the consumer culture of the Kennedy and Johnson years.