© Gar Powell-Evans 2013. Courtesy Barbican Art Gallery.
Pop art is perhaps one of the most influential and popular art movements to date, maybe due to its unbreakable affinity with the 60s, a decade that still dazzles our own with its optimism, frivolity, and in its feeling of dynamic innovation, exemplified by the first human forays into space. It was also the moment when the line dividing high and low art and culture was irreversibly blurred.
Pop Art Design, the Barbican’s latest exhibition, explores the cyclical relationship of inspiration and mimicry between art and articles of consumerism, examining the dialogues and emerging technologies that fed into the advent and domination of the pop art movement.
Some of the best known pieces contributing to this new style of art, was Andy Warhol’s coca cola paintings, one of which “Coca-Cola: Close Cover Before Striking” is featured in the exhibition. Created in 1962, the piece takes its inspiration from the brand’s advertising, exemplifying the comment of pop artists on commodity fetishism and how they brought democratic equality into the beforehand elitist world of art by making their subject matter something that was accessible to, and understood by, the everyday person.
The Barbican conveys the rapid discourse between art and the world of the consumer by exhibiting examples of both side by side. We can see Roy Lichtenstein’s “In The Car” as well as the original comic strip it was based on, a part of the 1961 comic book series Girls' Romances edition #78. The aforementioned Coca Cola inspired Warhol pieces are displayed next to a 60s pop art inspired vending machine.
There is no doubt that is exhibition will be one of the Barbican’s most popular this year, treating visitors to more than 200 pieces by over 70 artists and designers, in a bright and sunny space evoking the positivity of the era. Not only will pop art fans be able to see some of the most famous pieces of the time, but can also see lesser known pieces by these greats and their contemporaries – stand out pieces are Gaetano Pesce’s enormous anglepoise lamp, Herman Miller’s Marshmallow Sofa and Judy Chicago’s colourful car bonnet.
Standard tickets are £12 with concessions available. Pop Art Design is running until the 9th of February.