Coca Cola has been the world's most popular drink in almost every country, regardless of religion, race or nationality. It is also the world's number one brand and it represents on its own the power of global world trade and of the consumer society, caricatured by the glamorous car in the composition. On the other hand, this iconic bottle which you can find next to the pyramids in Egypt, by the Statue of Liberty in New York or alongside Van Gogh's masterpieces in Europe, started its life as a medicine for stomach pain, available in drug stores, as seen at the centre of the work. Baykam's work depicts the history of Coke since its modest beginning in America with its first advertisements and slogans such as 'It's The Real Thing', making slowly its way to becoming the number one icon of the "American way of life".
However, the story has another side as well. The blond figure seen on the right side as pushing the giant Coca-Cola can was portrayed first in 1986 in a painting by Baykam, typical of his Neo-Expressionist period of the early eighties, entitled The Myth. Her posture and movement recall the Greek myth of the King of Corinth, Sisyphus, who was forced to push a giant rock up a steep mountain, only to watch it repetitively fall down from the top every time he reached it. Condemned in mythology to do this absurd act forever, Sisyphus had no other choice. In both his painting Myth and work Coke For The World, Baykam's blond figure incarnates two contemporary myths adding to the ancient myth of Sisyphus, that of the blond stereotype woman and of the consumer society, all represented in one same image.
In the present work, Bedri Baykam uses the effect rendered by the 4-D (3-D+time=4D) lenticular depth, to add a multi-dimension feeling to it, illustrating its rich multi-layered meanings. Several art critics have praised Baykam's innovative technique describing how the artist 'worked in many mediums, including painting, collage and performance, Baykam has turned in his new "4-D" works to "lenticular" technology. Familiar from postcards and even billboards, it allows him to incorporate time into his narrative tableaux: using computer software, he layers imagery in such a way that a parallax shift occurs, causing illusions of depth and motion as the viewer moves from one position to another. In the 1980's, Baykam juxtaposed elements of painting and collage in continuous surfaces; now he is able to float images on top of each other. If modernist painting affirmed the support's two-dimensionality, these kinetic pictures are indeed post-modern.' (Peter Selz in Art In America, December 2009).
Coke for the World's first edition is in the collection of the DEMSA Museum in Istanbul, having already been exhibited at the MKM Besiktas Cagdas Art Center in 2009 at the Bedri Baykam from Collections show. The present work was exhibited in the Akademie der Künste Museum, Berlin; in California at the Alphonse-Berber Gallery, and in Istanbul at the Contemporary Art Fair.
We thank Tuba Kurtulmus from the Piramid Art Center for her kind help in cataloguing the present lot.