Timothy Rub, the George D. Widener Director and CEO of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, stated: “Pop was one of the most iconic art movements of the second half of the twentieth century. This exhibition is an ambitious effort to explore its emergence and impact far beyond the borders of the United States and Britain. We are delighted that in Philadelphia we will add to the exhibition some important works from private collections and our own holdings of contemporary art.”
Highlights of International Pop will include works of major British and American artists presented in juxtaposition with works by artists from other countries that were centers for the development of Pop Art. Hers is a Lush Situation, a work painted in 1958 by one of the seminal figures of this movement, the British artist Richard Hamilton, offers a witty commentary on the advertising adage that sex sells. It treats the forms and shapes of a Buick as an evocation of the human body, punctuated by a cut-out of Sophia Loren’s lips. Other artists would look at this issue in a different light. In O Beijo (The Kiss) of 1967, for example, the Brazilian Waldemar Cordeiro turns the lips of Bridget Bardot into a mechanized image of a kinetic sculpture, fusing pop culture and emerging computer technology. By contrast, in Ice Cream, the Belgian artist Evelyne Axell paints a woman licking an ice cream cone from a radically feminized perspective, at once quoting and challenging notions of sexual desire.
A key work shown only in Philadelphia will be Jasper Johns's Flag, 1958, in which the artist represents the iconic image of the American flag in a literal way and at the same time utilizes it as a vehicle for exploring new possibilities for contemporary painting. Other works, such as Antônio Henrique Amaral's Homenagem ao Século XX/XXI (20th/21st Century Tribute), 1967, suggest that such an image could not be separated from the dominance of America as a cultural power in Brazil at this time. Ushio Shinohara's Coca-Cola Plan (After Rauschenberg) of 1964 reflects the complex relationship between Japanese artists and their American counterparts, whose work they largely experienced through print media. Also seen only in Philadelphia are Mimmo Rotella’s The Hot Marilyn, 1962—a décollage of an Italian movie poster—and Ed Ruscha’s Felix, 1960, an early example of his work in the idiom of Pop Art, of which he was one of this country’s pioneering figures.
Emerging first in the United Kingdom and the United States, Pop Art soon become an international phenomenon, finding expression in a bewildering variety of different forms and media. It was a product of a revolutionary social and political era as well as a response to the proliferation of consumer culture in the decades after World War II and the media—magazines, television, and motion pictures—that fueled its growth. The exhibition will give visitors a rare opportunity to see Pop Art in a new light. It will examine the factors that shaped artistic activity in the social democracies of Europe, the military regimes of Latin America, and Japan in the aftermath of U.S. occupation. It will include sections closely examining vital hubs of Pop activity in Great Britain, Brazil, Argentina, Germany, the United States, and Japan. International Pop will also bring together works from diverse geographic regions and different periods during the development of the movement to explore common themes and subjects.
Among the other artists featured in International Pop are James Rosenquist, Claes Oldenburg, Jim Dine, Rosalyn Drexler, and Andy Warhol (United States); Peter Blake, and Pauline Boty (Great Britain); Konrad Lueg, Sigmar Polke, and Gerhard Richter (Germany); Keiichi Tanaami, and Genpei Akasegawa (Japan); Antônio Dias (Brazil); and Marta Minujín, Dalila Puzzovio, and Edgardo Costa (Argentina); Sergio Lombardo and Mario Schifano (Italy); and Yves Klein, Niki de Saint Phalle, and Martial Raysse (France).