This is a major Exhibition at Tate Modern of Pop artists rarely unknown in the art world. My initial impression is that this is a serious portrayal of major Pop artists all over the World in including a consideration of artists working and living in Latin America and countries which were formerly in the Comecon area of influence under Stalinist Hegemony. In many ways I found these pop artists better , and more influential than artists like Andy Warhol and Roy Lichenstein who always avoided serious political matters and mostly concentrated on Trivia particularly with reference to Warhol.
Quoting the Tate Booklet ” Mass produced imagery borrowed from popular culture”. . this included artists like Ushido Shinohara , anna maria Maldino and the Brazilian Antina Dias.
” Visceral red, black and white imagery symbolic of the blood and dirt of the urban underbelly”. .
Evelyn Axell (1938-1972) In Valentine ” space represented emancipatory site for women depicts the liberation of the Female body”. . Tadia Yoko in Kisses Kisses with other depictions like Snow white and the Black dwarf and images of Orpheus and Muhammed speaks. Eviliana Gray and Joe Tilson use pictures of the Rich and famous and Tilson uses Richard Nixon in his portrayal of 1972.
These then are images of models and even Che Guerava interspersed with printed images of the day . Both Tilson and Gray are able to depict these images with great effect.
” These three dimensional wooden grids echoing the layout of radical magazines of the period. Grau’s 1972 Ethnographies show how it denounces Spanish society under Franco,s repressive dictatorships in which capitalist consumption was marketed as fulfilling and liberating”. .
” By using photomontage these artists are able to address issues including Female sexuality celebrities and political violence and economic equality”.  . This is more potent, important and effective than anything Warhol would be involved in , proving that this is proper pop art.
The Exhibition is spread over 11-12 rooms and we have only reached Room 3 which highlights Pop politics. Jerry Zielinski (1943-1980) produced a series of pop images directly connected to politics joining him were artists like Marcello Nitsche , in his Kill Fly 1967 , joined By Joan Caredlis ,Jorge Ballestro (1941-2014) with his divine proportion and Raino Reinkamen in his sketch for US Flag who depicted it in a very political manner unlike the Neo impressionist Jasper Johns who just painted a series of motifs connected to the American Flag. There could be some comparison between the two artists.
The last image is a reference to Leonardo Da Vinci and his similar portrayal of man . This time Realdid has done this image to criticise war and Imperialism. A very striking image in my opinion.
As the information at the Gallery confirms ” Reinkamen works representing the condemnation of the Vietnam war are merely intended as a condemnation of the USA and their role in the conflict”. . The artist himself comments ” I was appalled at how one of the richest countries in the world was trying to ravage one of the poorest”. .
Teresa Lina Soares a Brazilian living during the Brazilian dictatorship in Brazil during the 1970’s and 1980’s. ” Soares juxtaposes war and love both filtered through the mass Media alienating effects showing sexualised human silhouettes and interspersed through fragmented images of warfare”. .
Marcello Nitsche whose images I have already displayed also showed very important political images of Kennedy’s assassination . ” The idea that the same bullet passed through the US President’s body also injured the Texas Governor John Connolly was central to the debates around whether gunman Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone”. .
Ulrike Ottinger was another pop artist who lived in Paris from 1962-1968. As the notes from the Tate indicate ” Created paintings influenced by pop art. The works imply that the candidates have become modern objects of worship -war as a game”. .
in Room 4 of the exhibition we now see the work Of Cornel Brudascu from Romania. ” The 1970’s saw Romania open up to international exchange .Counter culture music and art influences could be experienced through western magazines. Having become familiar with contemporary American art Brudascu experimented with portraiture , combing representations of family and friends with compositions borrowed from Western sources” .
Much of these works by Eastern European artists can be compared to the Socialist realism work of the Stalin era. ” At the same time works such as youth on a building yard engaged with the official prolecult art of this period”. .
Room 5 of the Exhibition shows some of the work of Erro sub titled Pop art at Home .” subverting and remaking of the American dream. Erro stages the invasion of a peaceful American bourgeois dream by the Viet cong and Maoist troops. These are juxtapositions of imagery from opposing sides of the cold war .A reversal of American Military invasion especially depicted in His American Interior 1 , American Interior 5 and American Interior No 9″. . These are some of my favourite artworks portrayed in this excellent Exhibition.
Angela Garcia another artist with her ‘Breathing out’ portrays self destruction. As the notes amplify. ” Garcia’s paintings from the early 70’s struggle for authority in Francoist Spain”. . ” As Spanish women we suffered from double repression .the politics imposed by the dictatorship and the inequality towards women”. .
Room 7 & 8 concentrate on Pop Crowds and Pop bodies as well as introducing us to Jana Zebiliski , Henri Cuesco Claudio Tozzi with their Large protest, Grande Manifestation and Multitude.
Brazilian artists suffered badly at the hands of the Brazilian Military thugs as artists recount. ” In 1968 military regime in Brazil became more and more notorious and more oppressive in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janiero. political protests were a daily occurrence”. .
Equippa Cronica , a Spanish collective where mass gatherings represented the greatest threat to Spanish dictator Franco. As the notes recall ” The sequences of manipulated press photographs showing a developing crowd celebrates the possibility of individual action solidifying into collective resistance to the regime”. .
As the notes explain at the time of the conflict between the great superpowers many artist living under oppressive regimes in pain , Brazil and Eastern Europe reflected these developments in their art work. The notes add ” These works represent the leaders of the two superpowers during the cold war the USA and the Soviet Union. They were made at a time of great tension between the two nations when a 3rd World war seemed necessary “. .
Maria Schifano in 1968 produced Comrades Comrades . ” Spray painted silhoueetes of political protestors holding the Communist symbol of the Hammer and Sickle accompanied by the same political slogan for a fair solution to societies social and political contradictions”. .
To conclude I will mention Dinan Otasevic an artist from Yugoslavia. He was an Anti Stalinist and in 1967 composed a work’ Towards Communism on Lenin’s course’ . ” It was in wood representing the 50th Anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution .Otasevic had said that his work was a result of opposition to the ruling (Stalinist) Socialist Ideology in Yugoslavia”. .
This then concludes my review of ‘The world goes Pop’. How superior these pop artists are compared to Warhol and Co. They stand out with their overtly political message criticising Capitalist and Imperialist propaganda and unlike Jeff Koons and Andy Warhol are serious about Socialist Liberation having experienced Capitalist and popular culture providing some interesting messages. I particularly liked Erro with his pastiches on Maoism and the Chinese variety of Stalinism. Very effective art work. I would strongly recommend that anyone who hasn’t seen this Exhibition go and see it. The Exhibition is open until January 24th.
1) TATE BOOKLET
3) TATE MODERN
4) TATE MODERN BOOKLET
11) TATE MODERN
12) TATE MODERN BOOKLET