News — 2 Aug 2011

These four works are among the highlights of the Stedelijk Museum’s collection of Pop art and Nouveau Réalisme, the French counterpart of American Pop art. During the 1950s and 60s, consumerism and the increasing influence of the mass media formed a rich source of inspiration for artists. The practitioners of Pop art incorporated the visual tropes of contemporary everyday life into their work with playful and sometimes critical undertones. The influence of popular culture, particularly in the form of advertisements and comics, can clearly be seen.

 For his triptych As I Opened Fire (1964), Roy Lichtenstein deliberately chose comic-strip images from outside of the art world and transformed them into monumental painted works. Like Mondrian, he restricted his palette to primary colors and black and white. As I Opened Fire does not reveal any personal painterly touch but resembles a printed page that has been enlarged to accentuate the oversized Benday dots of the comic strip.

James Rosenquist’s White Frosting (1964) is also dominated by primary colors and white. Rosenquist, who trained as a billboard painter, turned his banal and sickly sweet subject—a bowl of white frosting—into a serious work of art. Or perhaps the work is actually intended to be a little tongue-in-cheek and not to be taken too seriously, after all.

Andy Warhol’s painting Large Flowers (1964) is part of a series comprising over 900 works. He produced these silkscreens in a wide range of formats and colors at the Factory, his New York studio, basing them on a picture that took second prize in a women’s magazine photography competition. The image itself and the number of works in the series willfully undermine the aura of exclusivity that surrounds “high” art such as painting.

Martial Raysse also appropriated a photographic image as the basis of his “painting”Peinture à haute tension (1965). He sprayed an enlarged black-and-white photograph of a model  with two colors of paint. In addition, he accentuated the seductive mouth with fluorescent neon lighting—an allusion to illuminated wall signs—in order to lend tension to the painting, as suggested by its title. Elaine Sturtevant’s “appropriated” workRaysse Tableau à haute tension (1969) is an almost exact copy of Raysse’s, now on display in Bellevue on the ground floor.