Don’t be surprised if pop art works on the wall literally pop out in front of you and say “Hi”. The M Contemporary Art Center presents the “Hi, POP” Exhibition, featuring works of five of the most notable pop artists who blazed the way for pop art in New York: Robert Rauschenberg, Roy Lichtenstein, Keith Haring, Robert Indiana, and Andy Warhol. The exhibit features a total of 160 pieces and is known to be the largest of its kind in Korea. What’s more, there are 60 of the best collections by Roy Lichtenstein that are on display for the first time here. There are so many representative works to look forward to, including Andy Warhol’s Campbell’s soup cans or Marilyn Monroe, with which we are so familiar. Undoubtedly, it will be a rare opportunity to appreciate the works of great pop artists. Let’s greet each artist one by one!
Pop Art: Art off the Walls
Pop art derives from the word “popular,” an art trend created under the influences of popular media and advertisement. Pop art can be portrayed by mainly three techniques: using a print technique called silk-screens, borrowing the tools of cartoons, and installing works on the streets. Although originated in Britain, it was in New York in the 1960s that pop art flourished. Starting off from a form of revolt against the dominant approach to art and traditional views on what it should be, young artists shifted their attention to what was around them in their everyday lives. Inspiration sprang from sources like Hollywood movies, cartoons, billboards, and daily products. It was a reflection of the cultural environment, the theme that the public knew the best. As a result, it significantly broke down the barriers between high and low art, enabling people to approach art with ease.
Extension of Pop Art at M Contemporary
One of the key terms to define pop art is extension. Likewise pop art, M Contemporary, where the exhibition is held, also demonstrates this point. To be specific, M Contemporary is located on the first floor of Le Meridien hotel and the exhibition venue extends to its lobby, blurring the distinction of art and commercialism. In addition, each section is not just a room with white walls to display art works, but a space where it blends in with pop art. Each hall is composed for viewers to imagine representative places that the artists carried out their artistic passion. The exhibit does not end by just seeing. As a part of the exhibit, there is a “Print Factory” next to Andy Warhol’s hall, where you can experience silk-screen techniques by making your one and only eco bag.
Five Artists to Examine
Roy Lichtenstein: Speech Bubbles and Ben-Day Dots
What first comes to mind to viewers when they see Lichtenstein’s works would be comic strips. He is the first artist to adopt the Ben-Day newspaper printing method, using comic strips to take advantage of pop culture’s accessibility. The composition is easy to play around with and also delivers simple, but powerful messages.
Robert Rauschenberg: The Combine and Chance
Rauschenberg’s "Combine" painting is a series of collages, a method of integrating objects made of scarves, faux cornice, and images from newspapers and magazines. The selection of these materials is seemingly random, but interrelated, and that’s where chance comes in as an important element. “Combine” blurs the boundaries of everyday life and art.
Robert Indiana: LOVE and Number
Robert Indiana may be best described by the word “LOVE.” As seen in his speech, “For Pop is all about love in its many forms. For example, loving life and the commonplace in all its infinite ways,” one can sense his warm and optimistic view on art. By sharply contrasting colors, he cleverly creates illusions, making two-dimensional screens as sculptures and these sculptures, in turn, to become hard-edge paintings.
Keith Haring: Marker Pens and Scribbles
It would be harder not to notice that Haring’s works are displayed in a space transformed as a subway platform. What could be a better word than the street artist to explain a man striding down the metro station in New York filling blank spaces with marker pens? He claimed the station to be his laboratory. His artistic scribbles not only show interest in music and dance, but also deliver messages of peace and love.
Andy Warhol: A Factory of Dreams
A large section is dedicated to Warhol who bloomed during the glory days of pop art. Literally everything can be embraced as a base for art in Andy Warhol’s studio, known as the Factory. From celebrities like Marilyn Monroe to daily products like Campbell’s soup cans, he overturned the idea of what art should be about. He also revolutionized artwork by establishing factory-style mass production through silkscreen painting.
Girl With Hair Ribbon(Roy Lichtenstein), Earth Day(Robert Rauschenberg), Photo Zone(Robert Indiana), Lucky Strike(Keith Haring), Campbell’s Soup Cans(Andy Warhol), Marilyn Monroe(Andy Warhol)
By following the traces of five artists, viewers can catch a glimpse of pop art that has flourished from New York to around the world. When distinguishing pop art into the format of high or low art, it is put into the category of low art. Nevertheless, the expression ‘low’ does not mean that it carries lower value than fine art. It is another word for representing popular culture, an art that is popular, witty, democratic, and most of all, closely related to our lives. Perhaps a quotation of Andy Warhol would best sum up not only this exhibition, but also pop art itself, “Pop art is for everyone.”
Time: Weekdays: 11:00~20:00 / Weekends: 10:00~19:00
Location: M Contemporary
Price: Adult: 16,000 won / Student (University Student Included): 12,000 won
(Extra Charge for Print Factory: 15,000 won)
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