October 24, 2013

POP ART DESIGN exhibition @ The Barbican

The Pop Art Design exhibition just landed at the Barbican Centre. A dynamic mix of artwork that has shaped the way we see art today as well as architecture and design in general, featuring over 70 artists and designers.

Personally I have studied Pop Art in the past, but seeing so many different creations from up close was a whole different experience and gives the viewer a more thorough understanding of the movement.

The key to Pop Art is to know that the artists of the post-WW2 era reshaped the “everyday symbols, brand advertising and mass media publications”.

With such a big selection of items one might think he/she will be overwhelmed by the selection but the set up of the exhibition was pretty straightforward and made it easier to understand the artwork shown.

I will briefly talk about my favourite items from the exhibition and the categories they belong to.

A) Pop Beginnings:

Collage techniques and inspiration from popular culture defined the early Pop works in the aftermath of the Second World War.image

I Love You with My Ford, James Rosenquist,1961 — Rosenquist combines a Ford, a couple kissing and pasta as his subject matter, the interesting thing though is that “the subject matter isn’t popular images”.


Sella, Achille and Pier Castiglioni, 1957 — A stool that was created due to the observation that people tend to walk or sit when they are on the phone, and the final item would allow you to “sit down but not completely”. Sella means the bike saddle, here a leather Brooks one.


Block Clock, George Nelson, 1964 — It is also described as an asterisk (which mean ‘little star’ in Greek) what is interesting thought is that it is “at once both a thing and an image of a thing”.

Untitled, Alexander Girard, 1960 — Unfortunately I cannot find a picture of this artwork, but I will try to describe it. Basically it was a a light blue model that to me looked like a Christian church and a princess castle combined! It also had gold details, a cross on top and several doll shapes.


Torte a la Dobosch, Andy Warhol, 1958-9 — This drawing reveals a child’s innocence to me, it could be part of a cooking book to be used by kids (with the help of their mothers of course!).


Tribute to Andy Warhol, Simon International, 1973 — A small stool that looks like the legendary Campbell’s Tomato Soup can, and it actually reminds me of a Winnie the Pooh circular drum I used to put my toys in as a kid!

B) Pop Icons:

The presentation of pop iconography and the use of political figures, celebrities and comic books as inspiration. People turned to music and drugs at the end of the 1960s as they were questioning the consumeristic society that was developing as a result of Western politics.


Leonardo, Studio 65, 1969 — A traditional sofa is transformed in a display of the American flag and was made from a new material, such as Polyurethane foam.

C) Pop Image:

This was connecting with a change of the advertisements of domestic products, thus exploring illusion and image. 


imageViews of the Gunter Sachs apartment St. Moritz, Ulrich Mack, 1970 — Gunter Sachs was one of the most prominent collectors of Pop Art, the result of which was displayed all around his apartment is St. Moritz.



Private house in Basel, Rebgasse, Verner Panton, 1972-87 — The way Panton designed this house made it the perfect showroom for his work. The Living Sculpture (third image), was the focal point of the living room and is now displayed at Centre Pompidou in Paris.


Pillola, Studio DA (Cesare Casati, Emanuele Ponzio), 1968 — The use of a giant pill as a floor lamp is ironic, as it shows the acceptance and ever-increasing prevalence of drugs in society.


Cover art for Cream by Disraeli Gears, Martin Sharp, 1967 — Bold and psychedelic at the same time.


Prototype Stacking Chairs, Luigi Colani, 1967 — A fun and unusual design.


Exhibition for Modern Living, Charles and Ray Eames — The Los Angeles Country Museum of Art (LACMA) organised an exhibition with objects of great design, which also included the Eames’s living room from their Case Study house (1949).
















Ball Chair, Eero Aarnio, 1963 — This is the original design of a ball chair, which is proves how Pop Art is still current (and also copied).

D) From Pop to Postmodernism:

“Pop Art was not interested in the individual, but rather the common masses. It merged with Postmodernism in the early 1970s.”


Le Grand Pouce, César Baldaccini, 1965 — This is definitely the kind of artwork that catches your attention from across the room. Named “The great Thumb,” quite appropriately, it is a sculpture of the artist’s thumb. The bottom half part looks like a palm tree to me, probably because of the magnified view.

All in all a great exhibition, not to be missed if you have an interest in art.

And you can even download the free exhibition guide on your iPhone or iPad to take with you to the exhibition!

**the quotes are taken from the actual descriptions in the exhibition**


Image source: Jim Rosenquist, Achille Castiglioni, Vita Interior, Art Net1stdibs, Domus WebT magazine, Sotheby’s, The Noble Visions, Window(s) Shopping, LP Cover, Colani, Wanken, IFN, Wikipedia.


Barbican Centre, Silk Street, EC2Y 8DS

Tickets: standard – £12, concession – £10, student – £8

Exhibition is on till 9 February 2014

Book your tickets here.

xo F

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