I’m Jonathan Yeo. I’m here at Tate Modern Pop Live Show. I paint celebrities and I make things out of pornography, so I’m going to be inevitably looking at things from my own self-interested angle. But actually, this show is perfect for that.
So the first thing you come to in this show is of course Warhol, who is really the kind of father of the Pop Art movement, at least in all our minds, even if he wasn’t necessarily the first one to be doing it. By this stage, by the Eighties, he would have been photographing people like Jagger and fellow artists like Gilbert and George and Hockney. There’s no irony in his portrayal of these sort of people. It’s a celebration. It was very much him celebrating a world, a glamorous world that he desperately wanted to be part of.
We move into the Seventies. This is Cosey Fanni Tutti, and obviously one of the big objections at the time was pornography and its perceived exploitation of women. But she is engaging with it by putting herself in the magazine. This is performance art really, isn’t it, as well. As a concept, it’s great. Because I’ve been using pornography recently for making the collages, what is fun is seeing how pornography has evolved. You see that… what you notice your eye picks up on, the sort of, the floral, cheap pattern settee that she’s posing on. You forget how much seeing just the sort of mildly pornographic pictures on the wall of a gallery must have been very powerful and surprising thirty years ago.
It’s the Kuhn’s room in here, and there’s a nice little explicit warning on the door, which I imagine puts absolutely nobody off at all. So let’s go in.
I don’t remember there being a warning on the door of the show when it was first on in London. Walking in off the street into this room full of enormous, graphically pornographic, brightly coloured, very loud, garish and confident stuff, was quite a visceral shock. It was like, wow!
Well, this is a humming bird feeding suggestively at a lily or something, right next to a close-up of Mrs Kuhns, who has obviously just finished giving fallatio, and there is a dribble of something going down the side of her face. But it was very interesting seeing people’s, the general public’s reactions to it. And one of the most noticeable things was how men’s and women’s reactions were quite different. So I think women will react much more kind of openly to it. They would kind of respond and smile or chat about it, or whatever. The men, I think, it was a much weirder thing, because they are used to pornography being something that you kept hidden under the bed, or in the cupboard, or you know, you look at it in secret. And so to suddenly have it going on in public, and have to react to it in front of some other people you knew, was a sort of much more awkward experience, and so that was the immediate thing you saw, was how different people reacted to it differently.
The context of the other pictures in here is by far the most tame, but I think at the time it was the sheer fact of him having done this, and the fact that she was this sort of notorious porn-star turned politician, and the two of them coming together. It was much bigger than the sum of its parts. And you know, his work here in the aftermath of Warhol, he was very determined to be famous, you know, do anything to become the rock star artist.