Curators Elsa Coustou and Flavia Frigeri share their bite-sized highlights from Pop Art movement
As the only woman amongst 250 men at the auto-body school in Los Angeles, Judy Chicago defied her ‘macho’ surroundings. Using the spray painting technique learnt there, she began applying her resolutely feminist spirit onto the hood of cars. By replacing traditional motifs with brightly coloured sexual imagery and shapes reflecting phalluses or ovaries, Chicago challenges the male-dominated environments of both the custom car shops of LA and the art world as a whole.
Erró juxtaposes Pablo Picasso’s Weeping Woman 1937 with a Walt Disney character. This tragicomic piece is a response to the American domination of Europe after the World War II, and the resultingly rapid changes of cultural icons. The famous portrait by Picasso was inspired by the bombing of the Spanish town of Guernica. By re-appropriating this artwork, Erró suggests a new socio-political climate in which emotionally raw responses are made impossible and the ironic combining of cultural references become inevitable.
The first work in this series was a French flag with its dripping – perhaps bleeding – red stripe. Fromanger submitted it to his peers at the Atelier Populaire. This was a radical group of artists who produced political posters in support of the anti-government protests of May 1968. Although the Atelier rejected the image, Fromanger pursued the idea, developing twenty further prints based on other national flags smeared with red paint. He also painted scenes of urban protests with figures blocked out in red based on the photographs of Elie Kagan.
Komar and Melamid
Post Art No 1 (Warhol) is the first of a series of re-appropriated American pop art works by Russian artists, Komar and Melamid. Behind the Iron Curtain (the ideological boundary created between Eastern and Western Europe after World War II), access to American culture was very limited. Therefore, Komar and Melamid copied works by Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Jasper Johns, Robert Indiana, Tom Wesselmann and Peter Phillips from the black and white reproductions in Lucy Lippard’s seminal book Pop Art (1966). The pair decided to re-imagine how the works would look had they been affected by a nuclear war or natural disaster. Through this reference to the visual impression of destruction, they also addressed the Cold War anxiety that the legacy of artworks will decay throughout time.