Pop art, its aesthetics and its subjects
Originating in Britain and the United States during the 1950s, Pop art peaked in the 1960s and continued to flourish internationally throughout the 1970s. In stark contrast to the intensely personal and introspective approach of Abstract Expressionism, its artists abandoned painterly compositions in favour of impersonal images – facilitated by commercial printing techniques – and a return to figuration.
This art movement, which drew inspiration from popular culture, was a veritable formal revolution and championed a transformative mindset that challenged reified notions of what art could be. Often appropriated from the mass media, the Pop aesthetic is characterized, among other things, by bright colours, linearity, flatness, cropping, the incorporation of text, and work in series and multiples, evoking the mass production of consumerism. The subject matter represented – think everyday objects, brand-name consumer products, current events, celebrities and female characters ranging from comic-book heroines to housewives, to sex objects – underscored the pervasive infiltration of commercialism, technology and the media into the urban environment.
Pop art in the collection of the MMFA
The exhibition brings together installations, sculptures, paintings, textiles, drawings and prints by Canadian artists associated with the Pop movement, such as Pierre Ayot, Edmund Alleyn and Joyce Wieland, alongside their American and European contemporaries, including Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Tom Wesselmann and Eduardo Paolozzi. Their colourful and groundbreaking creations will be showcased in captivating juxtaposition with works from the Museum’s decorative arts and design collection.
In the media
Des œuvres audacieuses et teintées de réflexions que vous pourrez admirer sans modération!
Le Journal de Montréal
Credits and curatorial team
An exhibition organized by the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. It is curated by Iris Amizlev, Curator – Community Engagement and Projects, MMFA.
With support from the donors to the MMFA Foundation’s Philanthropic Circles
Andy Warhol (1928-1987), Mao, 1972, silkscreen, 10/250. MMFA, purchase, William Gilman Cheney Bequest. © 2023 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Licensed by Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / Copyright Visual Arts-CARCC. Photo MMFA, Christine Guest
Eduardo Paolozzi (1924-2005), Vogue Gorilla with Miss Harper, from the series “Bunk,” 1972, after a collage of about 1947-1952, lithograph, 92/100. MMFA, gift of the artist. © Estate of Eduardo Paolozzi / CARCC 2023. Photo MMFA, Jean-François Brière
Eddie Squires (1940-1995), “Lunar Rocket” fabric, 1969, printed cotton, printed by Stead McAlpin & Co., Carlisle, England, for Warner & Sons, Braintree, England. MMFA, Liliane and David M. Stewart Collection, gift of Eddie Squires. Photo MMFA