Viewing Pop Art through a much wider lens that amplifies a history commonly associated with major American figures like Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein, it is sure to delight audiences and broaden their understanding of one of the most significant chapters in the history of contemporary art. Organized by the Walker Art Center, this is the first traveling exhibition in the United States to present a comprehensive account of the development of Pop Art during the 1960s and 1970s. The Philadelphia Museum of Art will be its final venue and the only East Coast presentation.
Highlights of International Pop will include works of major British and American artists presented in juxtaposition with works by artists from other countries that were centers for the development of Pop Art.
Hers is a Lush Situation, 1958, Richard Hamilton, (Pallant House Gallery, Chichester, UK, Wilson Gift through the Art Fund, 2006), ©R. Hamilton. All rights reserved DACS, London/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Hers is a Lush Situation, a work painted in 1958 by one of the seminal figures of this movement, the British artist Richard Hamilton, offers a witty commentary on the advertising adage that sex sells. It treats the forms and shapes of a Buick as an evocation of the human body, punctuated by a cut-out of Sophia Loren’s lips. Other artists would look at this issue in a different light.
In O Beijo (The Kiss) of 1967, for example, the Brazilian Waldemar Cordeiro turns the lips of Bridget Bardot into a mechanized image of a kinetic sculpture, fusing pop culture and emerging computer technology. By contrast, in Ice Cream, the Belgian artist Evelyne Axell paints a woman licking an ice cream cone from a radically feminized perspective, at once quoting and challenging notions of sexual desire.
A key work shown only in Philadelphia will be
Jasper Johns's Flag, 1958, in which the artist represents the iconic image of the American flag in a literal way and at the same time utilizes it as a vehicle for exploring new possibilities for contemporary painting.
Other works, such as Antônio Henrique Amaral's Homenagem ao Século XX/XXI (20th/21st Century Tribute), 1967, suggest that such an image could not be separated from the dominance of America as a cultural power in Brazil at this time.
Ushio Shinohara's Coca-Cola Plan (After Rauschenberg) of 1964 reflects the complex relationship between Japanese artists and their American counterparts, whose work they largely experienced through print media. Also seen only in Philadelphia are
Mimmo Rotella’s The Hot Marilyn, 1962—a décollage of an Italian movie poster—
and Ed Ruscha’s Felix, 1960, an early example of his work in the idiom of Pop Art, of which he was one of this country’s pioneering figures.
Emerging first in the United Kingdom and the United States, Pop Art soon become an international phenomenon, finding expression in a bewildering variety of different forms and media. It was a product of a revolutionary social and political era as well as a response to the proliferation of consumer culture in the decades after World War II and the media—magazines, television, and motion pictures—that fueled its growth. The exhibition will give visitors a rare opportunity to see Pop Art in a new light. It will examine the factors that shaped artistic activity in the social democracies of Europe, the military regimes of Latin America, and Japan in the aftermath of U.S. occupation. It will include sections closely examining vital hubs of Pop activity in Great Britain, Brazil, Argentina, Germany, the United States, and Japan. International Pop will also bring together works from diverse geographic regions and different periods during the development of the movement to explore common themes and subjects.
Among the other artists featured in International Pop are James Rosenquist, Claes Oldenburg, Jim Dine, Rosalyn Drexler, and Andy Warhol (United States); Peter Blake, and Pauline Boty (Great Britain); Konrad Lueg, Sigmar Polke, and Gerhard Richter (Germany); Keiichi Tanaami, and Genpei Akasegawa (Japan); Antônio Dias (Brazil); and Marta Minujín, Dalila Puzzovio, and Edgardo Costa (Argentina); Sergio Lombardo and Mario Schifano (Italy); and Yves Klein, Niki de Saint Phalle, and Martial Raysse (France).
International Pop is organized by the Walker Art Center where it was curated by Darsie Alexander (now Executive Director, Katonah Museum of Art) and Bartholomew Ryan (now independent curator). At the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the presentation is organized by Erica F. Battle, The John Alchin and Hal Marryatt Associate Curator of Contemporary Art.
The exhibition is accompanied by a fully-illustrated catalogue. It is the first major survey to chronicle the emergence and development of Pop art from an international perspective, focusing on the period from the 1950s through the early 1970s. Including original texts from a diverse roster of contributors, the catalogue offers important new scholarship on the period. The volume includes some 320 illustrations, including full-color plates of each work in the exhibition, integrating many classics of Pop art with other rarely seen works. Published by the Walker Art Center, the hardbound 368-page volume is distributed by Distributed Art Publishers.
More images from the exhibition:
Oiran, 1968, by Ushio Shinohara (Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo) © Ushio and Noriko Shinohara