Two exhibitions are now on show in London that give a comprehensive insight into Pop Art: Pop Art Design at The Barbican Center and When Britain Went Pop! at the newly opened Christie`s gallery in Mayfair.
The Barbican approach to Pop is like a breath of fresh air as it shows paintings and sculptures together with graphic and product design, which made the exhibition more interesting. Richard Hamilton, whose collage Just What is it that makes today`s homes so different, so appealing? is considered as the birth of Pop Art and is also exhibited, followed the intellectual idea of his close friend Marcel Duchamp that anything could be art:
‘People don’t seem to understand that an artist is free to do whatever he wants, and I’ve always relished that possibility. I do whatever I feel like’, Richard Hamilton.
↓ Just What is it that makes today`s homes so different, so appealing? / Richard Hamilton /1956
As all we already know, Pop artists elevated any representation of the daily life object into the category of art. Mass media, celebrities, supermarket products, advertisements, comics, everyday symbols and all the new products generated by the post-war consumer boom were among their sources of inspiration. In fact, some of them, like Andy Warhol, started their careers as illustrators of advertisements, book jackets and album covers. With the new industrial processes, which allowed the spread of all kind of commodities, the artists also played with illusions: what is real and what is a representation of a real object. For instance, Warhol made his work Brillo Soap Pads Box so as to be exactly the same as the real one, but it wasn`t the real one, it was only an illusion, a representation.
↓ Brillo Soap Pads Box / Andy Warhol / 1964-69
Graphic and product design were also part of this exuberant aesthetical context, bringing bright colours and sensual shapes to furniture, posters, textiles, album covers, etc… Designers like Charles and Ray Eames were profoundly engaged with new materials and technological processes which made possible to manufacture their designs. The exhibition also features work of other furniture designers such as Gaetano Pesce, Achille Castiglione, George Nelson, Verner Panton, Ettore Sottsass, Superstudio and Studio 65, and graphic designers like Alexander Girard.
↓ Leonardo / Studio 65 / 1969
↓ Up 5/6 La Mamma/Donna / Gaetano Pesce / 1969
Although the most famous names in Pop Art are Warhol and Lichtenstein, both American, there are other many artist who come from Britain (Richard Hamilton, David Hockney, Peter Blake, Allen Jones and Patrick Caulfield among others) and whose work contributed to the development of this movement. Although their work is shown at both exhibitions, it is Christie`s that focuses on Pop artists coming from Britain. Here there are some examples:
↓ Motorpshycho/Tiger / Peter Phillips / 1961-62
↓ Special K / Derek Boshier / 1961
↓ Wilshire Boulevard, LA / David Hockney / 1964
↓ Hatstand, Table and Chair / Allen Jones / 1969
↓(Clockwise from above) Earthware / Patrick Caulfield / 1966; Solomon R. Guggenheim / Richard Hamilton /1965-76; Lit Window / Patrick Caulfield / 1969
We will finish today`s post with Richard Hamilton`s own words about what is Pop Art:
‘Pop Art is popular (designed for a mass audience), transient (short-term solution), expendable (easily forgotten), low-cost, mass-produced, young (aimed at youth), witty, sexy, gimmicky, glamorous, Big Business’