Bursting with extraordinary artworks, Pop Art Design is certainly worth visiting if only to see some 200 iconic pieces from Pop art’s biggest names, including Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein and Peter Blake (of Sgt. Pepper fame). But Pop was much more than this nucleus of famous artists, and the Barbican’s exhibition seeks to break down everything you thought you knew about it.
Born in America and Britain in the late 1950s, Pop was not merely an art movement, but an entirely new world view: a provocative reworking of everyday objects and imagery in violent explosions of colour. Pop Art Design seeks to narrate, for the first time, a story that connects this bombastic art with the cutting edge design of the time: in furniture, lighting and graphic design, and the burgeoning advertising scene.
Pop Art became the symbol of the huge new creative impulses of a postwar obsession with celebrity and commodity, and saw artists and designers feeding off each other and collaborating prolifically. This exhibition, playing with scale, sound and colour, seeks out and celebrates the shared aesthetics of such icons of design as the typography of New York City’s subway maps and the sensual lines of the famous Eames chairs.
The influence of Pop Art was remarkably broad, and has remained a ubiquitous cultural reference. But, largely overlooked as simply an art movement; this fascinating exhibition seeks to correct that view and broaden Pop’s horizons. We loved this show when we saw it at Copenhagen’s Louisiana gallery, and can vouch for it as a true assault on the senses.
Pop Art Design is on at the Barbican until 9 February 2014. Click here for more information.