Artist interview: Thomas Bayrle

Was ‘pop art’ a term used by yourself or colleagues or was there a different terminology that referred to a new figurative art movement in the 1960s and early 1970s?

Sure – as soon as when it appeared in 1963 it was a fresh term for me.

Did you ever consider yourself (now or in the past) a pop artist?

Never one hundred per cent! I always felt representing a mix of several styles … – as much op as pop – and already 1966 I was working towards technologies like mapping.

Did your work engage with current events in the 1960s and early 1970s?

It always did. My entire pleasure was to make contemporary references, mixed with long-distance humour of existence, such as Mao in 1964 and 1966 or the pope in New York in 1965…

How did you choose the subject matter for your works included in The World Goes Pop?

Actually the picking of the cheese brand was a reflex to the cow wallpaper of Andy Warhol – in contradiction to him those days I was seeking dense grids, weavings and patterns – able to function as sub-grids in order to carry super grids… like faces or figures made of cows.

Where did you get your imagery from (what, if any, sources did you use)?

I used magazines of any printed matter I could reach – obviously in a small advertising company: Bayrle & Kellermann, the makers of display (from 1969 to 1972).

Were you aware of pop art in other parts of the world?

Besides the pop art of England and USA, Japanese manga art fascinated me strongly … having visited Japan often since 1978, the way they produced manga images – in order to flow into comics or film – fascinated me (the entire industry of it).

Was commercial art an influence on your work or the way in which it was made?

Sure – as I mentioned. Working for three years– via advertising companies – I learned a lot about the background to pop art.

Was there a feeling at the time that you were doing something important and new, making a change…?

Actually I felt doing something new – especially by developing methods for mapping – but as I did not feel I was getting much feedback those days, I had doubts.

Was there an audience for the works at the time – and if so what was their reaction to it?

The audience was only in areas of advertising – hardly in the field of art.

Looking back at these works, what you do think about them now?

I am happy that they gained interest – especially among young people, like my students.

September 2015