Many icons of 1960s art will feature in a major exhibition at Tate Britain opening on 30 June 2004. Art and the 60s explores new departures in art in Britain in the seminal years following 1956, a period of seismic change in British culture.
Art and the 60s will include some of the best-known artists of the last fifty years, among them David Hockney and Richard Hamilton, Peter Blake and Bridget Riley, as well as influential but less widely celebrated figures of the period such as John Latham, Liliane Lijn and Gustav Metzger. Such artists reflected and participated in the social revolution that became mythologised as the ‘swinging sixties’. The exhibition will make particular reference to those works and artists that marked a fundamental shift in art practice or artistic language, among them Anthony Caro, Robyn Denny, Allen Jones, Philip King, Colin Self and Joe Tilson.
As Britain emerged from the 1950s, its art demonstrated an extraordinary degree of innovation and diversity. Art and the 60s will show a wide variety of objects that demonstrate the new practices and imagery explored by artists, and will seek to break down the traditional and often misleading divisions drawn between different types of work, abstraction and Pop for example. It will examine art that celebrates popular culture as well as art that takes a more critical stance towards both art and society. Areas of focus will include the process-dominated work that developed in the wake of Jackson Pollock; the interest in American consumer culture of Eduardo Paolozzi, Hamilton and Blake; the later use of popular imagery by Hockney and his Pop art contemporaries; the abstraction of the artists who exhibited their work in the famous Situation exhibition; the new types of sculpture emerging from such institutions as St Martin’s School of Art in London and shown at the New Generation exhibitions at the Whitechapel Art Gallery; and the Auto-Destructive art of Metzger and others that reached its climax with the Destruction in Art Symposium of 1966.
A key aspect of Art and the 60s will be a wider exploration of the lively visual culture of the period. It will examine, for example, the representations of sexuality and of celebrity that appeared not just in fine art but also in the photographs of David Bailey, John Cowan, Don McCullin and Robert Whitaker among others. The notion of a Pop architecture will be shown through the work of such figures as Cedric Price and the architects of the Archigram group, as well as other important architects of the period, such as Alison and Peter Smithson. Pop art’s relationship to innovations in design, television, advertising and packaging will also be explored.
Art and the 60s is selected by Tate Britain curators Chris Stephens and Katharine Stout and is accompanied by a lavishly illustrated book with essays by them as well as Barry Curtis, David Alan Mellor, Simon Sadler, and Andrew Wilson (£19.99, 160pp). A study day organised by Tate Britain and the Design Museum entitled Discovering Pop London: Pop, Architecture and Art will take place on Saturday 3 July. Tickets are available from 24 March online at www.tate.org.uk/tickets or by calling 020 7887 8888.
Open every day from 10.00 - 17.50 (last admission 17.00)