Wild Young Minds: Pop Art in Europe

Monday, January 14, 2013

Pop Art in Europe

I'm a big fan of art from the Fifties and Sixties, especially pop art. It is colourful and, most of the time, a feast for the eye, a relieve when you think about all those dark, serious paintings from the Middle Ages and later on. Though pop art can seem superficial, since it is mostly about the consumer society (think about the many food packages that have been painted, soup, coke bottles, etc.), this form of art was actually very critical. It dealt with politics, women emancipation, human rights, etc.

Many of you (including me) will think about Andy Warhol when hearing the word 'pop art'. But pop art wasn't only existing in America, it played an important part in Europe as well. Last week I visited the exhibition 'Pop Art in Europe' in Museum Valkhof in Nijmegen (a city in the east of the Netherlands) with my father.

It was a very elaborate exhibition, with clear themes that divided the many works. There was 'pleasure, welfare and leisure time', 'space travel', 'politics', 'icons', 'assemblies', 'the mirror of life' and 'anonymous reality'. Surprisingly, the theme 'icons' appealed to me most. It weren't just photos of Marilyn Monroe (though she was on many paintings) but the artists had made paintings based on a poem for example, and assemblies of Elvis Presley, Brigitte Bardot, etc. hidden between other forms. A remarkable theme was 'anonymous reality'. It included a lot of used stuff, garbage and this was typical for European pop art.
We also saw a short documentary that included interviews with many of the famous Pop Art artists from France, Belgium, the Netherlands, England, etc. To name a few: David Hockney, Allen Jones, Woody van Amen and Gerhard Richter.

All in all, it was an interesting and elaborate exhibition, that showed many weird, but also many intriguing works. It's a shame pop art is known nowadays to be so typical American, when Europe has delivered some wonderful pieces as well. Unfortunately, the exhibition has already ended, so I can't advice you to go there, but you definitely should remember the names I mentioned: their paintings are worth to have a look at. 

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