Pop tends to be associated with a kind of deadpan humour, distanced from overt social commentary, but the works in this room demonstrate its capacity to address political themes head-on. Iconic images are subverted and commercial products are yanked from their idealised apolitical plane and forced into relation with world events and social injustices.
Pop art’s flourishing coincided with the Vietnam War, and artists across the world responded to it in their work, often focusing critically on America’s role in the conflict. Images of consumer goods or the seductive visual language of advertising are juxtaposed with symbols or scenes of violence referencing the Second World War as well as contemporary conflicts. Artists addressing civil rights abuses within their own countries sometimes adopted more oblique strategies; the apparently banal fly-swatter in Marcello Nitsche's Kill Fly is a reference to the Brazilian military dictatorship, for example.
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