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International Pop
Tadanori Yokoo

April 11 - August 29, 2015

Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN

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Traveling Exhibition:

Dallas Museum of Art from October 11, 2015 – January 17, 2016

Philadelphia Museum of Art from February 18 – May 15, 2016. 


The Walker Art Center is delighted to present International Pop, a groundbreaking historical survey that chronicles the global emergence and migration of Pop Art from the mid-1950s to the early 1970s. Organized by the Walker and on view April 9, 2015 through September 6, 2015, International Pop will travel to the Dallas Museum of Art followed by the Philadelphia Museum of Art through 2016.


Pop is among the most broadly recognized phenomena of postwar art, primarily identified with Britain and the U.S. In truth, however, the Pop impulse was strikingly nomadic, contagiously spreading not only through Britain and the U.S. but also Japan, Latin America, and both Eastern and Western Europe. From its inception, Pop migrated across borders and media, seizing the power of mass media and communication to reach a new class of viewers and adherents who would be drawn to its dynamic attributes. Yet, as this exhibition will reveal, distinct iterations of Pop were developing worldwide that alternatively celebrated, cannibalized, rejected, or transformed some of the presumed qualities of Pop in the U.S. and Britain. This sensibility emerged in reaction to the rise of a new consumerist and media age, laying the foundation for the emergence of an art form that embraced figuration, consumerism, and mechanical processes with a new spirit of urgency and exuberance. Particular attention will be given to the specific socio-historical contexts in which Pop emerged, from the social democracies of Europe; to the politically and socially turbulent U.S.; to the military regimes of Latin America; to the postwar climate of Japan; and the restricted pop cultural palette of countries in East Central Europe.


Curated by Darsie Alexander with Bartholomew Ryan for the Walker Art Center in consultation with an international group of scholars and curators, International Pop asserts that Pop was not a singular artistic style or brand, but a roving spirit and ethos moving with unprecedented force through culture at large in the 1960s through a new abundance of everyday commodities, mass media production, and mainstream advertising. Featuring some 125 art works by over 100 artists drawn from over 13 countries on four continents, International Pop will be the first exhibition of its kind to explore such a vast and diverse array of Pop-related production.


A key ambition of the exhibition is to show artists in the specific contexts from which they emerged, as well as to create relations between works across time and place. The exhibition is therefore organized into contextual sections—specific places or institutions—and broader thematic sections:





New Realisms
A new form of realism arose during Pop’s formative years, a period that saw artists more attuned to mass media imagery, an influx of new commodities, and the decidedly physical world of objects and human bodies. A partial list includes Antonio Dias (Brazil); Yayoi Kusama and Genpei Akasegawa (Japan); Martial Raysse (France); Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, Jim Dine and Andy Warhol (USA); Mimmo Rotella (Italy); and Jean Tinguely (Switzerland).


The Image Travels & the Archive Shifts
With rapid developments in print technology and other media, the image world proliferated during this period and artists increasingly engaged the found image, often exploring the striking nature of popular culture. Additionally this section examines artists’ strong impulse to cull from a newly-saturated image world, sourcing from magazines and comic books and other media sources. A partial list includes Jirí Kolár and Július Koller (former Czechoslovakia); Peter Roehr (Germany); Roy Lichtenstein and Bruce Conner (USA); Tanaami Keiichi (Japan); and Eduardo Paolozzi (Great Britain).


Distribution & Domesticity
One of the recurring themes of Pop globally is the subject of commodities and goods, especially in the west. This sections examines the circulation and availability of goods as a key driver of content and critique for Pop artists, who variously perceived “abundance” to be a particularly American theme. A partial list includes Erró (Iceland); Marisol (Venezuela); Cildo Meireles (Brazil); Paul Thek, Claes Oldenburg, Ed Ruscha, Wayne Thiebaud, Tom Wesselman and Robert Watts (USA); Ushio Shinohara (Japan); and Billy Apple (New Zealand).


Pop & Politics
Worldwide, the emergence of Pop was heavily shaped in the 1960s by political conditions and social unrest. This section presents works with this topical and often potent subject matter and imagery, including national flags, political figures and striking critiques of Western ideologies. A partial list includes Hélio Oiticica, Cláudio Tozzi and Marcello Nitsche (Brazil); Thomas Bayrle (Germany); León Ferrari and Jorge de la Vega (Argentina); Andy Warhol (USA); Öyvind Fahlström (Sweden); and Genpei Akasegawa, Tetsumi Kudo and Yoko Ono (Japan).


Love & Despair
An abiding fascination with themes related to desire, death, sex, and the body can be found throughout the 1960s, which saw a resurgence of figuration that coincided with the rise of Pop Art. This section features artists who engaged the body from a position that can be seen as subverting and questioning representation in popular culture of the period: a partial list of artists includes Evelyne Axell (Belgium), David Hockney (Britain), Pino Pascali (Italy), Wanda Pimentel (Brazil), Marjorie Strider and Andy Warhol (United States), Jerzy Ryszard “Jurry” Zielinski (Poland), and Jana Želibská (former Czechoslovakia).




Britain: The Independent Group & the New Scene
This section highlights the activities of the Independent Group (Britain), a collection of artists, architects and critics often associated with the emergence of Pop Art in the early 1950s, as well as a second generation of British Pop Artists who emerged in the exuberant context of the swinging sixties in London. Artists include Richard Hamilton, Peter Blake, Pauline Boty, Derek Boshier, Colin Self, and Clive Barker.


Germany: Capitalist Realism
During the German economic miracle of the 1960s, four artists founded a short-lived movement titled Capitalist Realism, which cast a critical eye on the importation of U.S. popular culture, as well as developments in West Germany which they satirically paralleled with the Socialist Realism of communist East Germany. This section features Sigmar Polke, Gerhard Richter, Manfred Kuttner and Konrad Lueg.


Brazil: The New Consciousness
The story of Pop Art in Brazil during the 1960s is one of the most vivid sections of the exhibition. While many artists turned to a Pop style at various points, often incorporating its use into previously established movements such as Neo Concretism and Concretism, the artists were largely distrustful of U.S. Pop, which was associated with a U.S. government that propped up Brazil’s military dictatorship. A partial list of artists includes Waldemar Cordeiro, Nelson Leirner, Antonio Manuel, Antonio Dias, Anna Maria Maiolino, Raymundo Colares, Rubens Gerchman and Antônio Henrique Amaral.


Argentina: The Instituto Torcuato Di Tella & Pop Lunfardo
In the decade of the 1960s, Argentina saw a radical and unique emergence of Pop Art that quickly transformed into a more political, dematerialized conceptual art. Much of these activities were collected around the Insituto Torcuato Di Tella in Buenos Aires. This section concentrates on the artists associated with the earlier Pop phase, whose flair for self-promotion and media savvy engaged a version of Pop that was highly participatory and event-based. French critic Pierre Restany coined the term Pop Lunfardo (Vernacular Pop) to describe these artists who include Delia Cancela, Pablo Mesejean, Marta Minujín, Dalila Puzzovio, and Edgardo Giménez.


Japan: The Sōgetsu Art Center & Tokyo Pop
Much exciting production in Japan of the 1960s was organized around the Sōgetsu Art Center, a leading experimental institution in Tokyo that became an international meeting place for artists (including Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg). It largely features Pop related artworks (often sophisticated responses to the dominance of U.S. popular culture) produced in Tokyo by Japanese artists including Ushio Shinohara, Keiichi Tanaami, Shinjiro Okamoto, Tadanori Yokoo, and Tiger Tateishi.


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