April 13 – June 1, 2012
Curated by Allison Spencer & David Smith, Museum Studies Interns
Helen Christou Gallery
At the onset of the 1960s, the Pop art movement was already in full swing. In the 1950s, artists began to draw inspiration from popular culture. Objects of mass production became of interest to artists who sought to elevate these ordinary objects to the status of fine art through bringing them into the gallery. The artworks produced in this era mark the beginning of a closure of the gap between ‘high’ and ‘low’ art, where the difference between the two is nearly indistinguishable. Artists like Roy Lichtenstein began appropriating images derived from comic book sources into his paintings, sculptures and prints. Others like Andy Warhol utilized imagery that was circulated by the mass media, and also found inspiration in the objects churned out in mass production by factories such as Campbell’s soup. The processes of mechanization were important and sometimes, as in the case with Warhol’s silkscreening methods, reenacted in the process of artistic production. The Pop art movement has been viewed by historians as a reaction against the elitist attitude within contemporary art galleries that often presented art which was inaccessible to much of the public. Today, Pop art is one of the most visually distinctive artistic movements and has reentered the sphere of mass production. Posters can be readily purchased featuring works by many different artists working in the Pop art style. In this way, the movement has come full circle, by re-inserting itself back into popular culture. Pop art turned the conventions of the art world upside down and contributed to the emergence of the subsequent movement called Postmodernism.
The 1960s is a two-part exhibition; the second part can be seen in the Main Gallery space (W600). The selection of work in the Main Gallery is devoted to a different movement of art that was beginning to take shape in the 1960s, known as Minimalism.
– Allison Spencer & David Smith, Museum Studies Interns