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Print Project Space: Pop Prints

7 Apr 2018 - 18 Apr 2018

Pop art in the 1960’s successfully blurred the boundaries between what constituted a fine art work, and mass-produced images. This was particularly true of printmaking, where artists began to use pre-existing commercial techniques such as screenprint, in innovative and groundbreaking ways. 

Richard Hamilton was an artist who drew directly upon the social changes he was witnessing, whether reflecting on the rise of a consumer culture or on the mediation of political events. His interest in mass-production and contemporary mechanical processes manifested itself heavily within his art. The Solomon R Guggenheim (Metalflake and Silver/Gunmetal), 1976, is one of approximately eighteen unique versions of a vacuum formed Perspex relief by Hamilton based on Frank Lloyd Wright's spiral design for the Guggenheim Museum in New York. Hamilton was initially inspired by coloured postcards of the museum, before studying photographs of the buildings along with the architect’s plans before making his own preparatory sketches, prints and reliefs. The relief is shown together with screenprints by Hamilton that depict pop culture icons including Bing Crosby and Marilyn Monroe. 

Patrick Caulfield drew his subject matter more from the masters of modern art than from the consumer culture that preoccupied his fellow artists. Caulfield distilled elements of still life into their simplest form, and by using pure line and colour he created an instantly recognisable pictorial style. Several screenprints from the 1970s are shown alongside a painting Study for Sausage, 1977, and the print Les Demoiselles d'Avignon vues de Derrière, 1997, the final edition Caulfield made.

Allen Jones, who studied alongside Caulfield at the Royal College of Art in the early 1960s, is fascinated by performance and movement of the figure. In Life Class, 1968, a suite of seven lithographs, each work is made from two prints. The bottom half depicts a pair of woman’s legs posed in a mini skirt, a symbol of the London’s swinging sixties, and reminiscent of commercial advertising of the time. In contrast, the top half, which completes the figure, is a handmade lithograph.

Joe Tilson was one of the first artists to freely incorporate photography, plastics, textiles, and collaged elements into his works. N.Y. Decals 3 & 4, 1967, (pictured) consists of two screenprints on cartridge paper presented in two glassine envelopes, accompanied by assemblage instructions, and Sky Two, 1967, features torn paper elements. These works, which applied borrowed elements from consumer culture to fine art, are shown together with prints by American artists Tom Wesselmann and Jim Dine. 

Through the mediums of painting, sculpture and print, Tom Wesselmann consistently reinterpreted the subject matter of still life, nude, and landscape, throughout his lifetime. The clean lines and flattened forms of his later screenprints, Monica Sitting with Mondrian, 1989 and Monica Nude with Lichtenstein, 2002, depict Wesselmann’s studio assistant and model, Monica Serra. Prints by Jim Dine include examples of etching, lithography and stencil printing. Self Portrait (Stencil), 1970, depicts a bath robe, a subject Dine describes as ‘autobiography through objects’. The solitary standing robe continues to serve as a metaphor for the artist, alongside further motifs such as tools, hearts and paintbrushes.