Tate Modern will present ‘The World Goes Pop’, a ground-breaking exhibition revealing how artists around the world engaged with the spirit of Pop, from Latin America to Asia, and from Europe to the Middle East. The show will explode the traditional story of Pop art and show how different cultures contributed, re-thought and responded to the movement. The exhibition will bring together around 200 works from the 1960s and 1970s, including many which have never been exhibited in the UK before.
Aside from the Anglo-American reflection on modern commercial culture, associated with such artists as Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein, this exhibition will reveal the alternative stories of Pop, highlighting key figures of the era who have often been left out of mainstream art history. The exhibition will also reveal how Pop was never just a celebration of Western consumerism, but was often a subversive international language for criticism and public protest across the globe.
Reacting to the market and media dominance of post-war America, Pop art arose in many countries and communities as an overtly political, destabilising force. The World Goes Pop will show how artists used this visual language to critique its capitalist origins while benefiting from its mass appeal and graphic power. The exhibition will include the Austrian Kiki Kogelnik’s anti-war sculpture ‘Bombs in Love’ 1962, and the subverted commercial logos painted by Antonio Caro in Colombia and Boris Bućan in Croatia.
Pop’s comic-book blondes and advertising models have become familiar images of the idealised female body, but the exhibition at Tate Modern will also reveal the many women artists who presented alternative visions. Instead the Pop body could be complex and visceral, from Brazilian Anna María Maiolino’s brightly coloured sculpture of digestive organs ‘Glu, Glu, Glu’ 1966, to the paintings of cut-up and isolated body parts by Slovakia’s Jana Želibská and Argentina’s Delia Cancela.
The World Goes Pop will also showcase many other women artists who played key roles in the movement, including Evelyne Axell, Eulàlia Grau and Marta Minujin. These were artists who challenged the traditional cast of male figures who have come to dominate Pop’s canon.
Pop art is also traditionally associated with the hyper-consumerism and the celebrity icon, but global Pop artists often found the amassed crowd to be a more potent symbol of contemporary culture, shown in works from Icelandic artist Erró, Brazilian Claudio Tozzi, and Spanish-based Equipo Crónica – whose works showed the modern energy and antagonism of crowds, in sharp contrast to American Pop’s remote icons like Marilyn and Elvis.
Other artists even united a Pop aesthetic with their own folk traditions, bringing together contemporary imagery with local practices. The exhibition will show many such variations from across the globe, from Judy Chicago’s decorated car hoods to Beatriz Gonzalez’s painted Colombian dining table to Ushio Shinohara’s ‘popped’ versions of 19th century Japanese prints.
The World Goes Pop will be curated by Jessica Morgan, and begins on 17 September 2015 to 24 January 2016