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Spanning half a century, POP Power from Warhol to Koons: Masterworks from the Collections of Jordan D. Schnitzer and His Family Foundation expands beyond the ordinary exhibition of Pop art – now a historical movement of the 1960s – and explores the work of Pop artists, such as leaders Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein, next to that of their present-day, Neo-Pop heirs, including powerhouses such as Jeff Koons and Damien Hirst.
Indeed, with the creations of Koons and Hirst fetching some of the world’s highest auction prices for works by living artists, the aesthetics and approaches of Pop art have demonstrated a unique adaptability and staying power, in contrast to other major post-World War II movements like Abstract Expressionism or Minimalism.
While Pop art was an international phenomenon, it consolidated and flourished most strongly in the United States in the 1960s, particularly in the work of New York-based artists like Warhol and Lichtenstein. For this reason POP Power focuses principally upon Americans of the Pop orbit, yet includes a greater number of international Neo-Pop artists, reflecting the global nature of art and culture in today’s postmodern world.
By exploring Pop and Neo-Pop art together and comparing their similarities and differences, we gain a deeper understanding of their practitioners’ intentions and strategies, as well as the art’s relationship to broader cultural evolutions.
Roy Lichtenstein (American 1923–1997)
Andy Warhol (American 1928–1987)
Robert Indiana (American 1928–2018)
Claes Oldenburg (American born in Sweden 1929) and Coosje van Bruggen (Dutch active in United States 1942–2009)
Niki de Saint Phalle (French active in United States 1930–2002)
James Rosenquist (American 1933–2017)
Richard Prince (American born 1949)
Donald Sultan (American born 1951)
Jeff Koons (American born 1955)
Donald Baechler (American born 1956)
Keith Haring (American 1958–1990)
Julian Opie (English born 1958)
Takashi Murakami (Japanese born 1962)
Damien Hirst (English born 1965)
As underscored by the lists above, both the Pop and Neo-Pop artists in the exhibition represent cohesive generations, with many of the former being born in the late 1920s and in some cases beginning of the ’30s, and most of the latter born in the 1950s or sometimes early ’60s. Featuring leaders from both Pop (Warhol, Lichtenstein, and Rosenquist) and Neo-Pop (Koons, Hirst, and Murakami), POP Power from Warhol to Koons presents several works by these artists from different moments in their careers, allowing us a glimpse into their individual evolution.
The exhibition includes other compelling artists who are less well known or hold looser associations to the Pop and Neo-Pop realms. For instance, Robert Indiana’s single work in the show, his large LOVE carpet, represents one of the most iconic compositions in the history of Pop art, yet Indiana himself once said he “was the least Pop of all the Pop artists.” Similarly, in the contemporary arena, Donald Sultan dislikes the Neo-Pop label, and some of his work outside the exhibition possesses expressive handling and a dark mood that deflect it away from Neo-Pop and towards Neo-Expressionism. Keith Haring, who helped popularize graffiti art through his exuberant visual language, represents a somewhat transitional figure; though he is generationally situated with the Neo-Pop artists, he met and was mentored by a still active Warhol in the 1980s, before dying in 1990 at the young age of thirty-one from AIDS.
Finally, we should note the sole female artists in the exhibition, Niki de Saint Phalle and Coosje van Bruggen. Van Bruggen created many collaborations with her husband, Claes Oldenburg, one of which appears in the exhibition. Saint Phalle is represented by a lithograph from the Jordan Schnitzer Family Foundation. Notably, the relatively small number of works by women underlines how cultural norms caused Pop and then Neo-Pop (as well as most twentieth-century artistic movements) to be dominated by male artists and critics.
Organized by the Taubman Museum of Art, the exhibition includes many new acquisitions by collector Jordan D. Schnitzer and his Schnitzer Family Foundation, the holder of the nation’s largest private collection of prints and multiples, which now numbers more than 19,000 works.
Web content includes excerpts from the gallery guide produced by the Taubman Museum of Art to accompany the exhibition POP Power from Warhol to Koons: Masterworks from the Collections of Jordan D. Schnitzer and His Family Foundation. Curated by Deputy Director of Exhibitions and Education, Dr. Patrick Shaw Cable.
Caren and Erle Furbeyre
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