An exhibition exploring the iconic design and creative legacy of the Coca-Cola bottle opens tomorrow at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta. The Coca-Cola Bottle: An American Icon at 100 features more than 100 objects. On view through Oct. 4, 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.

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; a Pop Art section featuring more than 15 works by Andy Warhol; and a photography section tracking the enduring presence of the Coca-Cola bottle within the rapidly changing cultural landscape of 20th- and 21st-century America. 

Here are five highlights from the exhibit:



The Coca-Cola Bottle: An American Icon at 100
1915 Patent Coca-Cola Contour Bottle, 1916
Collection of and © The Coca-Cola Company

1915: The Bottle Competition

The Root Glass Company of Terre Haute, Ind., won the competition to create a distinctive and unique package for Coca-Cola with its contour shaped, Georgia Green bottle, patented in November 1915. The new bottle went into production in 1916. Advertisements proclaimed the new development, asking consumers to “demand it in the bottle.” In 1917, the Coca-Cola Bottlers’ Association announced the adoption of the new bottle in the National Bottlers’ Gazette.




The Coca-Cola Bottle: An American Icon at 100
Imogen Cunningham (American, 1883–1976), Ansel Adams in a Truck, Yosemite Valley, 1953, gelatin silver print. Collection of Joyce Linker. © 1953, 2015 Imogen Cunningham Trust 


1932: Imogen Cunningham, Ansel Adams and Coke

Celebrated as one of the great portrait photographers of the 20th century, Imogen Cunningham explored a diverse range of subjects and styles over the course of her long career. Cunningham, along with fellow photographer Ansel Adams, pictured here, founded the f/64 group in 1932. The group rejected a soft-focus pictorial style in favor of photographs that emphasized “clearness and definition.” This casual shot of Adams, shown sitting in a truck and enjoying a Coca-Cola in the Yosemite Valley, captures the intimacy of their lifelong friendship. 



The Coca-Cola Bottle: An American Icon at 100
Esther Bubley (American, 1921–1998), Coca-Cola Wall, Texas, 1945. Collection of Joyce Linker. Digital image courtesy Archives and Special Collections, University of Louisville, Kentucky. 


1945: A Glimpse of Daily Life

Esther Bubley was one of a handful of photographers hired by the Farm Security Administration (FSA), an organization established by the United States government in 1935 in the devastating wake of the Great Depression. The FSA’s photographers were hired to report on the plight of poor farmers, and document the New Deal’s efforts to help them. Many of these powerful images, which were widely shown in publications and exhibitions at the time, remain iconic visualizations of American struggle and endurance and served to popularize the careers of some of our nation’s most notable photographers.




The Coca-Cola Bottle: An American Icon at 100
Andy Warhol (American, 1928–1987), Coca-Cola (3), 1962, casein on canvas. Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas. © 2015 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York 





The Coca-Cola Bottle: An American Icon at 100
Andy Warhol (American, 1928–1987), Three Coke Bottles, 1962, silkscreen, ink, and graphite on linen, The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburg; Founding Collection, Contribution The Andy Warhol Foundation for Visual Arts, Inc., 1998.1.20. © 2015 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Artists 











1961-1962: Andy Warhol Focuses on Coke

Coca-Cola (3) is one of four paintings of single Coca-Cola bottles that Warhol made between 1961 and 1962. After its completion, Warhol presented it side-by-side to a friend with his Coca-Cola (2)work.  The friend unequivocally preferred the sleek, pared-down style of Coca-Cola (3) to the sketchy line work and smudging of Coca-Cola (2). This breakthrough moment transformed the trajectory of Warhol’s career, and in turn, the history of postwar art. 

Works like this were the beginning of Warhol’s extensive appropriation of commercial trademarks including Campbell’s Soup, Brillo, Heinz, and General Electric. Warhol once said, “I just paint things I always thought were beautiful, things you use every day and never think about.” Warhol was drawn to the Coca-Cola bottle for its mass-cultural appeal. Warhol’s art immortalized these everyday, endlessly reproducible commodities, transforming them into symbols of American popular culture.




The Coca-Cola Bottle: An American Icon at 100
nendo (Japanese, founded Tokyo, 2002), Bottleware, 2012. Photo(s) © The Coca-Cola Company. Diagram courtesy of nendo 


2012: High Design Glasswear

In 2012, the Coca-Cola Company approached Japanese design firm, nendo, to create a product that would commemorate and re-imagine the classic Coca-Cola bottle for the 21st century. Using recycled glass from Coca-Cola bottles that had deteriorated over the course of extensive recycling, nendo repurposed the old glass into a set of nesting bowls. Nendo’s design, inspired by the tactile experience of drinking a Coca-Cola, retains the Georgia Green tint of the original glass and preserves the bottle’s lower shape, including the distinctive ridges produced in the bottle’s manufacturing.