Fort Wayne Museum of Art

Fort Wayne, IN



POP(ular)/OP(tical):Art of the 60s and 70s from the Permanent Collection

December 11, 1999 through February 20, 2000


The sixties and seventies were fertile years for art, brimming with diverse approaches and styles that expanded the definition of art. Pop/Op focuses on two very different movements from this era drawn from the Fort Wayne Museum of Art's permanent collection. (left: Roy Lichtenstein, Still Life with Lobster, 1974, silkscreen and lithograph, FWMA 81.03.08, © Estate of Roy Lichenstein)

Pop art, shortened from popular, was a term coined in 1958 by British critic Lawrence Alloway. Pop artists, notably Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein and Jim Dine, looked to their immediate environment around them, embracing mass-produced goods, advertising, and other aspects of popular culture. It marked a choice for representation over abstraction. Pop artists borrowed images from the mass media, considered "low art," and expanded the notion of appropriate subject matter and techniques in "high art." Many of the artists used a striking graphic style reminiscent of commercial art. Printmaking, especially lithography and silkscreen, was a perfect medium for art whose sources were often found in print. Pop art's cool and detached approach rebels against art that celebrates individualism, self-expression and emotion and the personal touch of the artist's gesture.

Op artists, notably Victor Vasarely, Julian Stanczak and Bridget Riley, were interested in how people perceive phenomena optically. Using an abstract vocabulary, Op artists create optical illusions suggestive of movement, metamorphosis or billowing volumes. Placing specific colors adjacent to one another can cause colors to appear differently, more intense, for example. When viewing an Op work, there is only a brief moment before the dazzling effects seize the eye. Josef Albers's work and writing on color theory and perception taught at the Bauhaus and later at Black Mountain College and Yale University were influential on this group of artists. Op art came to the fore in 1965 in the exhibition The Responsive Eye at the Museum of Modern Art. Although Op art fell out of fashion relatively quickly, there was a revived interest in the 1980s, especially by painters Peter Halley and Philip Taaffe.


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For further biographical information on selected artists cited above please see America's Distinguished Artists, a national registry of historic artists.

rev. 11/26/10

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