SOLD OUT: AMERICAN POP ART from the 1970s to the 1980s


‘Sold Out’ aims to illustrate the evolution of Pop Art and the diversity of styles and techniques developed by its leading contributors; the exhibition furthermore investigates how Pop artists have not simply represented or commented upon the mass media culture but have participated in commercialism and found innovative ways to reach and sell to a wider audience. Andy Warhol once claimed that "Big time art is big time money", he was certainly not the only Pop artist interested in the art of selling out.

The work of Frank Stella, in many respects capitalised on attitudes and techniques first systematically explored in Pop Art a decade earlier. Between 1970 and 1973, Frank Stella introduced wood and other materials in his ‘Polish Village’ series, creating high relief works such as the one featured in this exhibition, which he later called ‘Maximalist’ painting for its sculptural qualities.

Robert Rauschenberg’s body of work, in a similar way to Stella’s, involved a radical re-evaluation of the status of painting that questioned assumptions underlying abstract expressionism. In the series of works exhibited, Rauschenberg sought to present the confusion of sensations and imagery characteristic of modern street life, and the incessant production of the mass media.


In Tom Wesselmann’s laser-cut drawings and related works of the late 1980s, such as the cut-out work featured in this exhibition, a hand made drawing was mechanically replicated and enlarged, whilst preserving its sketchy quality. Since the metal or liquidex paint surface coincides entirely with the drawn line, its representational illusionism is presented as inseparable from its material identity.

Keith Haring’s appropriated language was explicitly that of the city’s street culture: of the graffiti drawn, painted or sprayed on the walls of public spaces. His meteoric success led him to transfer these techniques onto paper, canvas and aluminum panel, such as the diptych ‘Pyramid’ featured in this exhibition. The ‘Untitled’ work from 1983, is a shrewd reference to the poetry of Kenneth Koch, leading contributor to the New York School in the 1960’s.

A key initiator of the Pop Art movement, Warhol established himself as an artist using the Silkscreen process; a way of eliminating altogether the distinguishing personality of brushwork while satisfying his desire for repetition, and registering images as a mere film of color on the canvas surface. Iconic motifs in Warhol’s work such as the ‘Campbell Soup Can’, the portrait of ‘General Mao’ and ‘Joseph Beuys’ are exhibited alongside other popular pieces such as ‘Chanel No 5’. The ‘Dollar Sign’ also featured in this exhibition acknowledges how Warhol remained true to the spirit of Pop in the 80s when returning to the theme of money, but this time presented in the form of a sign. Warhol celebrated the supremacy of Pop as a movement of incontrovertible and lasting value.

Curated by Laetitia Lina

Duration 22 September 2010 - 20 November 2010
Times 10 - 6pm Monday to Friday 12 - 6pm, Sarturday
Cost Free
Venue Olyvia Fine Art
Address 17 Ryder Street London SW1Y 6PY, ,
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