Pop art emerged as a dynamic force in England and America during the 1960s and 1970s. Artists such as Andy Warhol, Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, Eduardo Paolozzi and David Hockney were inspired by images from popular culture and the mass-media to create art that engaged directly with the contemporary world in a new and exciting way.
In the U.K., Paolozzi was one of the first artists to use images drawn from sources including science fiction and magazine advertisements to create collages that inspired the term “Pop Art”. His work encouraged a younger generation of artists to re-think the place of popular culture within a fine art context. London’s Royal College of Art produced some of the leading proponents of the movement including David Hockney, Peter Blake, Joe Tilson and Patrick Caulfield. In New York, artists such as Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein and James Rosenquist had also begun to incorporate graphic imagery from advertising and cartoons into their work in what was a fresh approach to art that revelled in contemporary culture.
The 60s was a turbulent decade of social ferment and political upheaval. Images of the Vietnamese war, racial riots in the US and revolutionary leaders circulated widely in the press and on television. This exhibition features classic pop images drawn from the media’s representation of this turmoil including Warhol’s images of the grieving Jacqueline Kennedy at the funeral of JFK, Tilson’s images of the Vietnamese leader Ho Chi Minh and the Cuban revolutionary leader Che Guevara, and Rosenquist’s Mayor Daley from the Chicago race riots. Other works in the exhibition show Pop’s predilection for the light-hearted iconicisation of everyday objects including John’s flags, Warhol’s soup cans and Dine’s paintbrush.
Printmaking provided the perfect medium with which Pop artists could create their graphic images, by using the same print processes employed by the mass-media. As a result printmaking witnessed an extraordinary resurgence during the Pop period that is represented in this exhibition.15 Minutes of Fame: 20 Years of Pop Prints presents more than 100 prints from the National Gallery of Victoria’s collection which demonstrate the diversity and vitality of Pop art produced in the UK and the USA.
Andy Warhol once said everyone will have their 15 minutes of fame, however, artists in this exhibition have now become household names, their works encapsulating the spirit of the era.