Sunday, 10 November 2013

When Britain Went Pop!

There is a fantastic exhibition at Christie's Mayfair, on New Bond St. which chronicles the early years of the Pop Art phenomenon in Britain. The great thing about the exhibition is that Christie's has managed to persuade owners to lend significant and early Pop pieces by  greats such as Peter Blake, David Hockney, Richard Hamilton and  Allen Jones, which are usually kept away from public view by their owners. Some haven't been publicly exhibited since the 1960s.

Personal favourites in the show are Allen Jones' early 'Bus' pictures which are a wonderful splash of colour, as are his later stylised fetish pieces of stiletto heels and shiny rubber-clad legs. His furniture sculptures of women in prone positions seem as controversial as ever, but make an important statement.


David Hockney's early paintings are also exciting. I really like the looseness of his brushwork compared to his more controlled paintings of the 1970s, as well as his use of graffiti/typography.

It was also really interesting to see Gerald Laing's work which has obvious parallels with Roy Lichtenstein's because of the use of the Ben-day dot system used in newspapers and comics, which both adopted in their work.

My absolute favourites are Peter Blake's paintings of wrestlers and tattooed ladies. I like the contrast in his paintings of the highly finished elements and areas which are left sketchy and seemingly unfinished. It was so wonderful to be able to see these early works in the flesh.

You really get the feeling from this show of how advertising, music and popular imagery caught the imagination of the these young artists of the period as there seems to be a real youthful energy and excitement to this show that reflects the "swinging" London of the time. All of the artists were clearly fans of the music, products and stars of the era. I now want to visit the Barbican's Pop Art Design exhibition which is also currently running before it closes. This was one of the best exhibitions I have been to this year.

When Britain Went Pop!
British Pop Art: The Early Years
Christie's Mayfair
103 New Bond St.