American Post-War Pop Art is now exhibited at the National Gallery in Oslo. “The Great Graphic Boom” is here defined as the decades following the Second World War. You can experience printmaking from an era concerned about the atomic bomb, movie stars, expressionism, consumerism and pop culture.
These decades were highly dramatic ones in the history of the United States, and the exhibition will reveal how pop art often was used as a subversive language of protest – a language that is more relevant today than ever.
Vivacious brushstrokes and vibrant color fields dominated the abstract expressionism of the New York school. Pop art is generally considered an Anglo-American phenomenon, a reflection in modern commercial culture, associated with such artists as Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein, both represented in the exhibit.
Around 1960, other modes of expression came into being. Unlike the New York school, many younger artists began to work a good deal on making prints. The exhibition shows many such variations, from Donald Judd’s red and blue printed Parallelogram to Ste Sébastienne by Louise Bourgeois.
For some artists, working on prints became a defining part of their careers, while for others it served as a short-term venue for experimentation. No one considered themselves to be “printmakers”, but these artists continue a longstanding tradition of painters-cum-printmakers, following in the footsteps of Rembrandt, Munch and Picasso.
Prints are well-suited to address because the media itself is based on imprints, transfers, and multiplication. Moving on in four halls, you’ll find the language of mass production, the repetition of advertising strategies, the appropriation of icons from popular culture and the subversion of political symbolism that re-educates us on a movement that really reached out to embrace us – and continues to do so.
“The Great Graphic Boom” is a collaboration between the Oslo National Museum and the Staatsgalerie Stuttgart in Germany. Curators are Øystein Ustvedt (Oslo) and Corinna Höper (Stuttgart).The exhibition runs through 28 May.
Feature image (on top) Roy Lichtenstein, Crying Girl, 1963 – Offset lithography
All photos by Tor Kjolberg
Oslo Goes Pop, written by Tor Kjolberg