Design Alumnus Celebrates 100 Years of the Coke Bottle


Burton Morris, an alumnus from Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Design (BFA ’86) is best known for his bold, graphic pop art depictions of various modern icons. His subject matter includes everyday objects that portray today’s popular culture and has produced art and designs for the countless notable institutions like the Academy Awards, the Summer Olympics, the White House and the United Nations.

However, starting November 20th, Morris’ latest project takes on one of the most recognizable images of American pop culture – the Coke Bottle.

Coke 100, which will be displayed at Soho Contemporary Art in New York City, is a mixed-media series showing off 100 unique Coca-Cola inspired canvases, in honor of the of the iconic 6.5 oz. glass Coca-Cola bottle, which turned 100-years-old on November 16th.

Burton Morris with all 100 Coke bottle paintings.

“That was a challenge,” said Morris on creating 100 different paintings for Coke 100. “The idea was to go through, one by one, and try to find new ways to interpret the Coke bottle, which is really an American icon.”

The collection, which uses the primary “Coke colors” of red, silver, black and white, was done on 100 16 x 12 canvases and took 6 months to conceptualize and 2 months to complete. The series builds on the tradition of Pop Art masters of the 1960’s-70’s, by portraying everyday ideas and objects and transforming popular culture icons into thought-provoking works of fine art. The result is a vibrant, energetic and unforgettable collection meant to evoke Andy Warhol’s 1986 series of paintings of Campbell’s Soup Boxes, another brand cemented in American pop culture.

“It really is an homage to Andy Warhol,” said Morris. “For this series, I channeled Andy, and challenged myself by experimenting outside of my typical clean line style, working with spray paint, screen printing and acrylic paint.”

“I have never been more excited about a series of paintings than these Coca-Cola bottles created by Burton Morris,” said Rick Rounick, owner of Soho Contemporary Art. “We have been selling artwork by Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring for over 30 years.

“I feel fortunate to see Burton Morris’ work evolve to the stature of these great artists.”

“Coca-Cola is one of the staples of our time,” added Morris. “To me it represents family dinners, nights out with friends, and classic Americana. It really was a once-in-a-lifetime chance and I was fortunate to get the opportunity to create this.”

Burton's art was a fixture on NBC's Friends.

Morris, who grew up down the street from Carnegie Mellon University, credits his time at the school for preparing him with the skills needed to tackle interesting problems, like designing 100 unique paintings at once.

“It’s an amazing school with a fantastic program, “ said Morris. “During the time I was at CMU I really felt they were doing great things in the area of graphic design and the arts.  

“It was the way they taught,” he added.  “They teach you how to approach and solve a problem and it can really be applied in any field.

“My work today has so many graphic elements and the thinking behind each of my ideas comes from the instruction I got at Carnegie Mellon.”

Morris’ artwork is featured in the collections of The Albright-Knox Museum, The Jimmy Carter Center, The Elysee Museum, The United Nations, The International Olympic Museum, The World of Coca Cola Museum, The Senator John Heinz History Museum and The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. In addition, Burton’s artwork has helped to raise millions of dollars for charities worldwide.

Coke 100 runs at Soho Contemporary Art starting with a VIP reception on November 19th and then opens to the public from November 20th through December 31st.

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Date Published: 
Thursday, November 19, 2015
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