Josephine Meckseper in Signs and Objects: Pop Art From the Guggenheim Collection

Guggenheim Bilbao Museoa, Barcelona
16 February – 15 September 2024

From the end of World War II through the 1960s, the United States witnessed a period of rapid economic growth that gave rise to a newly invigorated consumer culture. A number of artists responded to the commercialism around them by incorporating images from mass culture into their work and embracing new techniques for art making that mimicked (or mocked) industrial methods. Dubbed Pop Art, this work had as its source the world of pulp magazines, billboards, advertisements, movies, television, and comic strips. Artists such as Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol rejected the spontaneous gesture of New York School aesthetics to create works that reflected the impersonal logic of commercial printmaking and mass production.

The Guggenheim’s engagement with Pop art began early in Pop’s development. In particular, the 1963 exhibition Six Painters and the Object—curated by Lawrence Alloway, who had helped coin the term “Pop” in the late 1950s— provided institutional validation at a critical juncture. The Guggenheim Museum proceeded over the following decades to organize a series of important monographic surveys dedicated to the pioneers of Pop art including Jim Dine, Roy Lichtenstein, Claes Oldenburg, Robert Rauschenberg, and James Rosenquist, while simultaneously building a collection of iconic examples of the movement.