After Roy Lichtenstein and Richard Hamilton, both at Tate, Pop Art Design at Barbican and more recently Ludwig Goes Pop at mumok in Vienna, Tate Modern holds another pop art exhibition: The World Goes Pop, looking at the global story of pop art.
No Warhol and no Lichtenstein though, as Tate co-curator Flavia Frigeri highlighted. This Tate Modern show looks at pop art globally, in parallel with better known US and UK pop art. Flavia Frigeri showed us first Socialist Realism and Pop Art in the Battlefield, a work by the trio Equipo Crónica (Rafael Solbes, 1940-1981; Manuel Valdés, 1942; and Juan Antonio Toledo, 1940-1995).
Equipo Crónica provides a good introduction to the new Tate exhibition by bringing together ideologically opposite artistic styles hailing from the Cold War era. The Eastern block had socialist realism while the West had pop art, but both were art for the masses (source: Tate).
The global pop art on show felt more bluntly political than its British and US counterparts, which deal with more colloquial themes such as critiques of consumerism. Only the last room of Tate Modern includes this “traditional” pop art theme. Richard Hamilton defined pop art as popular (designed for a mass audience), transient (short-term solution), expendable (easily forgotten), low cost, mass produced, young (aimed at youth), witty, sexy, gimmicky and glamorous. In contrast, The World Goes Pop artists criticise world events (e.g. Vietnam War) and the artworks feel more conventionally left wing.
I would not put ‘The World Goes Pop’ among my top shows of the season but it is worth a visit. Of note, the inclusion of female pop artists – in a pink room – to remind us pop art extends beyond the higher profile male artists. The World Goes Pop runs until 24 January 2016 at Tate Modern.