In its only stop on the East Coast, the Philadelphia installation of International Pop features over 150 works of varying form, including reimaginings of vintage advertisements, Andy Warhol prints, and crucifix-airplane sculptures protesting the Vietnam War. Nothing is off-limits in this exploration of change and technology in the 1960s. Check out some of our favorite pieces, and head to the exhibit before it closes on April 15th.
WHO WILL ENJOY IT: Politicos, Activists, Social Justice Pioneers
BACKGROUND: During Pop art’s rise in the 1950s and 1960s, postwar political climates became increasingly turbulent worldwide (ie, the Vietnam War, the Civil Rights Movement, and widespread protests of military dictatorships in Argentina and Brazil). Artists directly responded to these oppressive regimes and political systems, and created a branch of Pop art that was rooted in self-expression and rebellion.
Antonio Manuel’s Repressao outra vez – Eis o saldo is a cleverly interactive representation of the turmoil under the Brazilian military dictatorship of the 1960s. Viewers are permitted to pull a rope that slowly lifts a cloth and reveals silkscreened images of violent street clashes between police and student protesters; the exaggerated and red-painted newspaper images that compose the panels convey the brutal forces of oppression that Brazilians experienced at the time.
WHO WILL ENJOY IT: History Buffs, Bold Thinkers
BACKGROUND: Flags and national symbols were often manifestations of political tension and anxiety in the 1960’s. The “Pop as Politics” examines the social and political unrest of the time beneath the sleek veneer of paintings, distorted political propaganda, and various installments that question the way world leaders navigated politics during the time period.
Stepping into the political-and-history-themed section of the exhibit is jarring because the eye is immediately drawn to this bold, 6-foot tall Jesus statue crucified to a replica U.S. fighter jet. The piece was particularly dangerous for Leôn Ferrari, the artist, to produce and display under the intense political landscape during the 1960’s in his native Argentina. An anti war symbol that goes for the jugular, Ferrari’s radical statement against the Vietnam War was removed from its original exhibit before the public could see it.
WHO WILL ENJOY IT: History Buffs, Vintage Fashion Lovers, Meme Creators
BACKGROUND: In the Pop Era, the public’s notions of beauty and glamour shifted, and the art often examined issues of social status and celebrity identity. The spread of television heightened the presence of pop culture in the everyday person’s life, creating a new focus on celebrity hype that was unprecedented.
Before there were Buzzfeed lists and Tumblr memes, figures like Andy Warhol offered ironic and witty responses to the whirlwind of new media. Sixteen Jackies is a repetitive response to the massively covered assassination of JFK in 1963. Warhol took newspaper images of the First Lady that appeared ubiquitously in coverage of the assassination, and mocked the media with his signature repetition.
WHO WILL ENJOY IT: Vintage Collectors, Food Lovers
BACKGROUND: An explosion of commercial brands, advertisements, and logos defined pop culture in the 1960s. Commercial excess was represented by large billboards and sprawling supermarket shelves, which are mirrored and parodied in Pop art.
Consumer goods and assorted American icons take center stage in Wesselman’s billboard-style painting. The large images stretch to your peripherals in a way that mimics the overbearing nature of advertisements. American staples like soda, bread, cigarettes, and canned food are immortalized in a domestic and eerily reverent way.