A couple of weeks ago, at the end of my week off work, we drove over to Kendal to visit the latest exhibition at Abbot Hall. which
celebrates British Pop Art from the early 1960s, including work by Sir Peter Blake, Pauline Boty, Patrick Caulfield, Richard Hamilton, David Hockney and Allen Jones borrowed from major collections such as Tate, National Portrait Gallery and Government Art Collection.
The 1960’s was when society began to change. Wartime austerity was behind us, National Service had ended and there was an explosion of creativity in music and the arts. The 50’s had been grey, the 1960’s were full of colour. Old ideas were being questioned and revolution was in the air. Mind you, I grew up in the 60’s in a small industrial town in Lancashire and I have to say most of this passed me by, but watching the news gave us glimpses of what was happening in that distant country called London and the rest of the world.
The Tate website tells us that Pop Art
began as a revolt against the dominant approaches to art and culture and traditional views on what art should be. Young artists felt that what they were taught at art school and what they saw in museums did not have anything to do with their lives or the things they saw around them every day. Instead they turned to sources such as Hollywood movies, advertising, product packaging, pop music and comic books for their imagery
Probably the most well known exponents of Pop Art are the Americans, Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein and Jasper Johns, but this exhibition concentrates on British artists. It shows the contribution they made to the style.
The exhibition focuses on 1962, the year of Ken Russell’s documentary ‘Pop Goes the Easel’ featuring Peter Blake, Pauline Boty, Derek Boshier and Peter Phillips, which was broadcast as part of the BBC’s Monitor arts strand.
No photos allowed in the exhibition but these are some Press Images that show some of the paintings on display.
Probably one of the most famous Pop Art works is Andy Warhol’s series of prints of Marilyn Monroe. She also features in a painting by Pauline Boty Colour Her Gone which is used on the poster for the exhibition. It’s a more conventional portrait than Warhol’s image and the actress comes across more as a human being.
As part of the exhibition the gallery have recreated a 1960’s living room. Probably more representative a of a trendy middle class home than the one I grew up in, but it certainly brought back memories. The wallpaper, record player, television set, telephone and sideboard were all evocative of the period.
To complement Painting Pop, Abbot Hall is also showing Hockney’s complete print series A Rake’s Progress. It was inspired by a trip he made to New York and “the Rake” has more than a passing resemblance to the artist himself.