Milwaukee Art Museum

Milwaukee, WI



Pop Impact! From Johns to Warhol

September 8 - December 31, 2000


Pop art, based on slick, new commodities, the flashy graphics of advertising and the crassness of consumerism, was considered shocking and controversial during its inception in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Now, Pop art is acknowledged as one of the most significant art movements to have emerged since World War II. (left: Claes Oldenberg, Ice Bag Scale C, 1971, Mixed media, Whitney Museum of American Art. © 2000 Claes Oldenburg)

Pop Impact! From Johns to Warhol looks at Pop imagery from different perspectives, encouraging visitors to examine the movement's defining characteristics -- elements such as scale and seriality -- as well as such atypical Pop approaches as the construction of a personal narrative and the innovative use of common materials.

Pop art, which evolved out of a turbulent period when America witnessed dramatic political, economic and cultural changes, represented both the new and shocking as well as a reference to past styles and approaches. Pop Impact! investigates often-overlooked aspects of the movement by tracing its development from proto-Pop works by Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg to icons of Pop by James Rosenquist and Andy Warhol. It also incorporates work by artists such as Marisol and George Segal. (left: James, Rosenquist, U-Haul-lt, 1967, oil on canvas, Whitney Museum of Amencan Art. © James Rosenquist/ Licensed by VAGA, New York)

As Pop art came into its full flower, scale became a defining element of many artists' work. For Rosenquist, an interest in large-scale imagery emerged from his training as a billboard painter. The massive pat of butter slipping across a hot frying pan in his U-Haul-It (1967) can be interpreted as a subversive exaltation of the common images associated with consumerism. Oldenburg's colossal Ice Bag -- Scale C (1971) carries issues of scale to absurd levels, bringing everyday objects into the realm of venerated icons. (left: Tom Wesselman, Great American Nude #57, 1964, synthetic polymer on composition board, Whitney Museum of American Art. © Tom Wesselman/ Licensed by VAGA, New York)

Comic strips, movies and the barrage of images across newspapers and television inspired many artists of this period to adapt strategies of repetition and seriality. Wayne Thiebaud's Pie Counter (1963), suggests a society in which the collective cultural appetite is continuously satisfied by a never-ending array of seductive products. (left: Wayne Thiebaud, Pie Counter, 1963, oil on canvas, Whitney Museum of American Art. © 2000 Wayne Thiebaud/ Artists Rights Society, New York)

The brash, youthful beginnings of Pop art in the hands of such notable figures as Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg and Claes Oldenberg have worn well over time; what was first incendiary has become iconic, but still remains every bit as fresh and rewarding.

Organized by the Whitney Museum of American Art, this exhibition inaugurates a dedicated program of touring exhibitions of works from the Whitney's collection. Intended to reaffirm the museum's national reach by providing communities across the country with a first-hand look at important works, Pop Impact! consists of more than 40 works. The Milwaukee Art Museum is adding 10 of its own works to the exhibition. The exhibition is co-curated by the Beth Venn, curator of the Norton Family Collection and former curator of the Collection Touring Program at the Whitney, and Shamim M. Momin, assistant curator and manager of Branch Programs. (left: Marisol, Women and Dog, 1964, mixed media, Whitney Museum of American Art. © Marisol/ Licensed by VAGA, New York; right: Jasper Johns, Studio, 1964, oil on canvas, Whitney Museum of American Art, Purchase, with partial funding from the Friends of the Whitney Museum of American Art, © Jasper Johns/ Licensed by VAGA, New York)

Philip Morris Companies Inc., with Miller Brewing Company, is the sponsor of the national tour of Pop Art! From Johns to Warhol and has provided additional support to the Milwaukee Art Museum for its presentation of the exhibition. The Philip Morris family of companies -- Kraft Foods, Miller Brewing Company and Philip Morris U.S.A. -- is recognized worldwide as a preeminent and respected arts sponsor, focusing its support on contemporary and multi-cultural visual and performing arts. The qualities that guide the successful growth of the Company's businesses -- innovation, creativity and diversity -- have been the cornerstone of its giving for more than 40 years.

Read more articles and essays concerning this institutional source by visiting the sub-index page for the Milwaukee Art Museum in Resource Library Magazine

Please click on thumbnail images bordered by a red line to see enlargements.

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

This page was originally published in Resource Library Magazine. Please see Resource Library's Overview section for more information. rev. 3/23/11

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