Evelyne Axell, Valentine 1966 . Tate . © ADAGP, Paris / DACS, London 2022

Room 11 in Media Networks

Beyond Pop

R.B. Kitaj, Isaac Babel Riding with Budyonny  1962

This painting is based on the writings of Russian author Isaac Babel. During the Polish-Soviet War of 1920, Babel accompanied the First Cavalry Army as a war correspondent. He documented the bitter realities of war in a collection of short stories titled Red Cavalry. Following Joseph Stalin’s ascent to power, these stories were withdrawn from sale, due to their negative reflection on the Red Army. They did not return to bookshelves until after Stalin’s death in 1953.

Gallery label, June 2021

1/20
artworks in Beyond Pop

Sir Eduardo Paolozzi, The City of the Circle and the Square  1963 and 1966

Paolozzi’s sculpture is part cityscape, part elaborate machine. He describes it as an ‘urban image’. The wheel, a recurring motif in his work, symbolises technology. Instead of using existing pieces of scrap metal, as he had in earlier sculptures, he started from scratch with this work. He designed a series of geometric units made from wax. Then, a team of assistants cast them in aluminium, before welding and painting them according to his instructions. This process, in which the artist is removed from the actual manufacturing, has been called ‘industrial collage’.

Gallery label, June 2021

2/20
artworks in Beyond Pop

Roy Lichtenstein, Whaam!  1963

Whaam! is based on an image Lichtenstein found in a 1962 DC comic, All American Men of War. Lichtenstein often used art from comics and adverts in his paintings. He saw the act of taking an existing image and changing the context as a way of transforming it’s meaning. Lichtenstein was interested in emotional subjects, such as love and war. His work takes on these themes in a distant and impersonal way.

Gallery label, July 2020

3/20
artworks in Beyond Pop

Chryssa, Study for Gates No. 4  1967

Chryssa was one of the first artists to use neon, previously just an advertising tool. She moved to New York in the 1950s and said she was inspired by Times Square ‘with its light and letters’. This work is made of sixteen blue neon forms housed in a grey Plexiglass structure made to resemble the night sky. The repeated forms are fragments of the letter ‘S’. Chryssa said, ‘I have always felt that when things are spelled out they mean less, and when fragmented they mean more.’

Gallery label, August 2018

4/20
artworks in Beyond Pop

Boris Orlov, Bouquet in Imperial Style  1988

The sculpture incorporates an array of communist symbols, including the red star, hammer and sickle and military banners and medals. Made when the Soviet Union was on the point of dissolution, it celebrates an empire that does not exist with deliberate irony. Orlov has investigated the idea of ‘imperial style’ in several works. It is, he says, the ‘showy façade,’ masking darker, dirtier historical realities; the play between the two is, in his words, ‘the essence of empire’.

Gallery label, February 2016

5/20
artworks in Beyond Pop

Boris Orlov, Military Person  1979

For most of the 1970s and 80s, Orlov worked at the heart of Moscow’s non-conformist cultural scene. This relief depicts a military hero in profile, highly simplified and dwarfed by medals displayed across his torso. The absurd exaggeration of the scale of these military decorations, which overwhelm and almost obscure the ‘military person’ himself, comments on the inflated status of Soviet officials. Orlov drew on various visual references including totem poles, early Russian portraiture in which the nobility were portrayed as secular icons, and the Russian avant-garde.

Gallery label, February 2016

6/20
artworks in Beyond Pop

Evelyne Axell, Valentine  1966

In Valentine Axell combines an idealised feminine silhouette with a spacesuit helmet. It was made during the 1960s space race, when the United States and the Soviet Union competed for dominance in space exploration. The title refers to Soviet cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman in space. Axell presents her as both a feminist heroine and a sexualised figure. Axell’s paintings have been described as a ‘sexual revolution in art’. They combat gender discrimination, linking women’s political and social freedom with female sexuality.

Gallery label, August 2018

7/20
artworks in Beyond Pop

Sir Eduardo Paolozzi, Mechaniks Bench  1963

Paolozzi began making machine-like structures in the early 1960s. He said he wanted to eliminate ‘arty’ qualities from his work. Instead he aimed for an impersonal, engineered feel. The elements in this work are a mixture of castings from ordinary machine parts with castings from forms designed by the artist. He described his raw materials as ‘things that nobody would give a second glance... Part of the battle is to try, and resolve these anonymous materials into ... a poetic idea’.

Gallery label, August 2018

8/20
artworks in Beyond Pop

Viktor Pivovarov, (He) Hit Me with a Hammer and Burst into Tears  1992

(He) Hit Me with a Hammer and Burst into Tears 1992 is a painting in enamel on canvas mounted on fibreboard. It combines image and text, presented in a comic book style. Two women sit drinking tea at a dining table, one listening attentively as the other laments her husband’s violent behaviour. Her words (which give the work its title) are presented in Russian script in a text box in the top right hand corner of the painting. A bed in the background locates the scene in a Russian communal apartment, where a single room often served as bedroom, dining room and lounge. The muted colours and bichromatic design enhance the resigned postures of the two women, imbuing the work with a sense of ennui that conflicts with the drama of the situation they are discussing.

9/20
artworks in Beyond Pop

Viktor Pivovarov, This is Radio Moscow ...  1992–6

This is Radio Moscow … 1992–6 is a painting in enamel on canvas mounted on fibreboard. It combines image and text, presented in a comic book style. The painting depicts an apartment room at twilight rendered primarily in dark blue. A door opens into the room, through which a view of the sun setting behind a neighbouring apartment building, painted in a bright yellow, is visible. On a table in the foreground are a lit lamp painted in a slightly darker yellow, an open book and a half-drunk glass of tea. The Russian text that runs along the bottom of the painting and gives the work its title provides an exact time for the scene, relaying an announcement on an unseen radio: ‘This is Radio Moscow. The time in Moscow is 19 hours 30 minutes. The next show is “Theatre at the Microphone”…’ The text and objects suggest the recent presence of the apartment’s resident. However, the human figure is absent, an omission accentuated by a partly obscured portrait hanging on the wall, which shows the outline of a male bust with a blank face. Despite the seemingly innocuous and tranquil setting, these absences suggest a sense of unease and menace.

10/20
artworks in Beyond Pop

Colin Self, Hot Dog Sculpture  1965

Fast food was a typical subject for pop art in the 1960s. It represented consumerism and a new fast-paced society. Many artists in the 1960s celebrated consumption. But Self’s Hot Dog Sculpture focuses on the darker side of the decade. The blackened hot dog relates to military conflict. Its charred appearance reflects Self’s anxiety about a possible nuclear war.

Gallery label, August 2019

11/20
artworks in Beyond Pop

Vivan Sundaram, May 68  1968

In 1966 Sundaram moved to London from India to study at the Slade School of Fine Art. Here he was influenced by British pop artists, such as David Hockney and Richard Hamilton, as well as his American tutor, the artist R. B. Kitaj. Sundaram started making paintings referencing political issues using the bold colours and shapes of pop art. This painting refers to the student protests and civil unrest that broke out in Paris during May 1968. Recognisable forms, including a police helmet, flame gun, barricades, and a figure behind a tree, are suggestive of a troubled street scene.

Gallery label, January 2022

12/20
artworks in Beyond Pop

André Fougeron, Atlantic Civilisation  1953

Fougeron was the leading artist associated with the French Communist Party in the early 1950s. Here he caricatures the increasing Americanisation of Europe, then a major target of Communist Party propaganda. Fougeron’s style plays on the comic -strips associated with American culture. A businessman greeting an American car embodies capitalism. The composition is full of elements that imply criticism of the French colonial wars in Indo-China and North Africa, the continuing nuclear threat and the exploitation of the underprivileged. The electric chair on a pedestal refers to Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, American citizens convicted of spying for the USSR.

Gallery label, February 2016

13/20
artworks in Beyond Pop

Sorry, no image available

Robert Indiana, Bar  1960–2, bronze cast 1991

14/20
artworks in Beyond Pop

Sorry, no image available

Robert Indiana, Eat  1960–2, bronze cast 1991

15/20
artworks in Beyond Pop

Sorry, no image available

Robert Indiana, Hole  1960–2, bronze cast 1991

16/20
artworks in Beyond Pop

Sorry, no image available

Robert Indiana, Orb  1960–2, bronze cast 1991

17/20
artworks in Beyond Pop

Roy Lichtenstein, Wall Explosion II  1965

This wall-mounted sculpture turns an explosion into a stylish icon. There is no sense of any resulting destruction. Lichtenstein made this sculpture at a time when the USA was heavily involved in the Vietnam War. It is based on an illustration in a popular boys’ comic that focused on the Second World War. The blue steel mesh with its regularly punched holes relates to the Benday dots used in printing of comics and newspapers.

Gallery label, August 2018

18/20
artworks in Beyond Pop

Wang Guangyi, Great Criticism - Pop  1992

Wang grew up during China’s Cultural Revolution, an era of radical cultural, political and social change. In the 1970s he worked as a painter of propaganda posters. During the 1980s, government reforms led to a shift away from China’s previous communist system towards increasing levels of foreign investment and consumerism. Wang sought to unite these opposing forces on the canvas by bringing together popular political and commercial symbols in a style that came to be known as 'political pop’. In doing so, he aimed to depict the reality of Chinese society. Chinese communist imagery and Western logos and brands appear together, alongside numbers representing Chinese barcodes.

Gallery label, January 2022

19/20
artworks in Beyond Pop

Sorry, no image available

Robert Indiana, GE  1960–2, bronze cast 1991

20/20
artworks in Beyond Pop

Art in this room

T00561: Isaac Babel Riding with Budyonny
R.B. Kitaj Isaac Babel Riding with Budyonny 1962
T00638: The City of the Circle and the Square
Sir Eduardo Paolozzi The City of the Circle and the Square 1963 and 1966
T00897: Whaam!
Roy Lichtenstein Whaam! 1963
T01088: Study for Gates No. 4
Chryssa Study for Gates No. 4 1967
T14199: Bouquet in Imperial Style
Boris Orlov Bouquet in Imperial Style 1988
T14200: Military Person
Boris Orlov Military Person 1979

You've viewed 6/20 artworks

You've viewed 20/20 artworks