Tate Modern Redefines Pop Art
Think Pop Art and it's easy to limit ourselves to either side of the Atlantic, with Peter Blake and Richard Hamilton in the UK and Warhol and Lichtenstein in the US. But this exhibition is seeking to change our perceptions and claims that pop art was a global phenomenon — not just a movement that highlighted our addiction to consumer imagery and culture.
Visitors may have to take a step back on entering the first room — the brightly coloured walls and imagery of popular brands and warfare are a massive hit to take in. A fighter jet transforms into a gun and Spanish collective Equipo Cronica's work contains pop art imagery with warfare and a portrait of El Greco, in a multi-layered work.
Pop art has always been associated with male artists, clearly highlighted in a work which shows a woman vacuuming a corridor with works by male artists on the wall. The most effective feminist work is a tribute to Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman in space; however most of the other feminist pieces in the show feel like they've been included to make a point about women being involved in Pop art, rather than for their artistic merit.
The strongest works here are those that focus on politics. A red and white pair of lips is sewn shut to symbolise the suppression of freedom of speech in Poland. There are works depicting police brutality, American soldiers torturing a captured member of the Viet Cong and a large piece where JFK and Khrushchev point in an accusatory manner at each other as West faces off with East.
Not all of the pieces here are effective, with thematic rooms the strongest and displays dedicated to one or two artists often being the weakest. However, it's a riot of colour and ideas in an accessible format. It introduces us to new artists and truly challenges how we define Pop Art, making it an excellent and ground breaking show.
Over at Tate Britain are the impressive sculptures of Barbara Hepworth, the great works marred by odd curation in Fighting History and an extension of a few weeks for the experimental Tate Sensorium. For more exciting exhibitions see our top 10 picks for this autumn and September, plus there's still time to catch some of our most talked about exhibitions in August.
Last Updated 21 September 2015