Pop Art in Print

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Pop Art in Print

2 - 30th August 2021

Online Exhibition

Although Pop Art is often perceived to be a movement that began in America with artists including Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein, it was in fact a phenomenon that developed almost simultaneously in the USA and Britain in the 1950s and early 1960s.

 

We are pleased to present a new online exhibition in collaboration with Sims Reed Rare Books, exploring the parallels in artistic thought, subject and processes between American and British Pop artists.

 

In Britain, it had its roots in the Independent Group, which was part of the Institute of Contemporary Art in London, in 1952-53. Leading artists involved included Richard Hamilton and Eduardo Paolozzi. In 1956 the Independent Group hosted the exhibition This is Tomorrow at the Whitechapel Gallery in London – a ground-breaking exhibition which has become known as a pivotal exhibition during the British Pop Art movement. The works created by this group of artists were self-aware – and often critical – investigations into pop culture.

This critical perspective is exemplified in Eduardo Paolozzi’s Moonstrips Empire News. The imagery from the 100 loose-leaf screenprints are drawn from diverse source material ranging from cartoons to scientific handbooks, classical icons to kitsch, machine parts to geometric patterns. They culminate in an eclectic, satirical and irreverent vision of over-saturation and excess in mass media culture. To view more images click here.

Similarly, the series  Z.E.E.P.  – from which we present two screenprints –  shows a bold assortment of colours, magazine images, diagrams and comic-strips. By printing the screenprints on Perspex, Paolozzi nods to commercial printmaking and Pop Art.

Eduardo Paolozzi
Moonstrips Empire News

Folio. Title, introductory text and 100 screenprints in colour by Eduardo Paolozzi on a variety of paper stock (including acetate), 1967.
Each signed in pencil by Paolozzi and with the publisher’s and printer’s stamp verso.
All the screenprints signed by Paolozzi verso and with eight screenprints signed and numbered by Paolozzi recto in pencil.
Printed by Kelpra Studio for Editions Alecto.
From the edition of 500.
Loose as issued, in original publisher’s two-part green and transparent acrylic resin box.
Each sheet: 40 x 28 cm.

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The artists Allen Jones, Derek Boshier, Ralph Steadman, Eduardo Paolozzi, Joe Tilson and David Hockney – among others – rallied together to produce a collection of stamps and archival material for Culture Carriers Stamp Out Art in consequence of the prolonged postal strike of 1971. The funds raised were in support of the Postal Worker’s Union.

To view a selection of images please click here.

Various Artists
CULTURE CARRIERS STAMP OUT ART: Stamps

A collection of the published stamps and additional original and archival material for the ‘CULTURE*CARRIERS STAMP*OUT*ART’ project and action issued in support of Postal Worker’s Union during their strike in 1971, with works by Allen Jones, Eduardo Paolozzi, Ralph Steadman, Derek Boshier, Joe Tilson, David Hockney, Ivor Abrahams, et al. Various forms and sizes. (London. Edizioni O. 1971).

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Much of this material is for stamps – or anti-stamps – that were published and issued and are familiar, however several of the items were not issued and the present material represents a valuable record of the wide scope of the original project. The material by Derek Boshier, for example, indicates that it had been planned to issue stamps with a variety of values (his designs for stamps valued ‘3p’, ‘4p’, ‘6p’, ‘8p’ which was issued, and ’10p’ are all here) while the Ivor Abrahams material suggests in its meticulous production that time constraints curtailed his contribution; we can trace no record of the work by Australian artist Philippe Mora (he signs himself simply ‘Mora’) while the ‘J G’ of the ‘0 NP’ stamp remains untraced.

During the 1971 postal strike, emergency measures were brought in to allow the licensing by the G. P. O. of those wishing to operate a temporary postal service. Several artists and poets, organised by Anthony Haden-Guest, started ‘Culture Carriers’ an ad hoc postal service cum art project, which intended to raise money for the strikers through the sale of artistic work with a postal theme, namely stamps. The publisher ‘Edizioni O’ agreed enthusiastically to act as a conduit for the ideas of the artists and the Mayfair Gallery agreed to market the works. The strike actually lasted three weeks, but the related art seems to have caused a longer lasting stir, eventually moving to Milan and Paris as an exhibition. The sales of the stamps were greatly enhanced by the artists’ signatures and initials on the stamps themselves and several thousand pounds were raised for the union.

The stamps produced are generally characteristic, the two Allen Jones designs are strikingly familiar as are those by Paolozzi, Tilson and Steadman, but the presence of the original artwork for many of the stamps marks this as an important document and resource relating to the near-forgotten consequence of a remote political scenario, a snapshot of a very different time. One of Allen Jones’ stamps (‘Stamp Out Art’) had widespread artistic and political consequences and inspired the exhibitions in Milan and Paris, giving them their title, as well as a number of militant Italian artists to issue their own political postcards along similar lines.

During this time, Richard Hamilton described the source material for his work, an expression that has become synonymous with the definition of Pop Art:

“Popular (designed for a mass audience); Transient (short term-solution); Expendable (easily forgotten); Low Cost; Mass Produced; Young (aimed at Youth); Witty; Sexy, Gimmicky; Glamorous; Big Business.”

– Richard Hamilton (1957)

While Eduardo Paolozzi and Richard Hamilton led the vanguard of the Pop Art movement, a younger generation was emerging. The 1961 ‘Young Contemporaries’ exhibition featured artists from a younger generation from the Royal College of Art in London. These figures included Allen Jones, David Hockney, Derek Boshier and Patrick Caulfield.

The Cross-Atlantic artistic exchange of ideas and influences from American counterparts inspired British artists and their work.

David Hockney
Harvard Etching

Etching, 1986.
Signed in pencil, an artist’s proof aside from the edition of 10. Printed by Tyler Graphics Ltd. Published by David Hockney.
(Tokyo 259).
Plate: 17.5 x 22.3 cm.
Sheet: 76.2 x 57.2 cm.

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David Hockney’s first visit to the USA in 1961 marked for him a prolific period of printmaking that was inspired by the libertarianism of America.  British Pop contemporaries, historically over-shadowed by their American counterparts, began to make their mark.

After moving to New York in 1964, Gerald Laing was quickly integrated into the American counterpart of the movement, befriending the likes of James Rosenquist, Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein. However, by the mid-1960s, Laing made a radical departure into sculpture, which coincided with leaving America. He would later return to Pop painting in the early 2000s.

 

The pairing of American and British Pop artists characterises how divergent attitudes to making art had become in the latter half of the twentieth century, and how attempts to map the seemingly disparate artistic trajectories can reap revealing parallels in artistic thought.

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