Complementing the exhibition The Great Graphic Boom, the Staatsgalerie Stuttgart is presenting select works of American Pop Art in the cabinet exhibition Pop Unlimited in the Department of Prints and Drawings. In addition to works by key artists like Jim Dine, Mel Ramos and Andy Warhol, we also show prints by pioneers such as Nicholas Krushenick, Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg. Selected from the rich holdings of the Staatsgalerie, these works on paper present a compelling cross section of the development of the Pop Art movement which emerged in the US in the 1960s.
Trivial subjects took centre stage in the Pop artists’ creative practice. Motifs taken from popular culture and the world of consumerism were invested with a new significance. The artists countered the subjectivity and emotional drivenness of Abstract Expressionism with an objective, conceptually systematic approach. Photo montage and screen printing were among the Pop artists’ favourite techniques. Screen printing enjoyed great popularity because this photographic process allowed not only for the immediate reproduction of the original on almost any support but also for virtually unlimited print runs.
Even beyond the realm of art, Pop shaped the outlook of an entire generation: ‘Pop is love, for it accepts everything. Pop is dropping the bomb. Pop is the American dream, optimistic, generous and naïve…’ (Robert Indiana).
The exhibition is complemented by offset prints from Ad Reinhardt’s series The Art Comics and Satires of Ad Reinhardt, produced between 1946 and 1961. Reinhardt, an exponent of Colour Field painting and a pioneer of Minimal Art was highly critical of Pop Art, which ran counter to his idea of abstract, pure art. He condemned the return to representation and the – to his mind – excessively materialistic hedonism of Andy Warhol, the figurehead of the Pop Art movement. On the other hand, Reinhardt’s preoccupation with the seriality of production processes and pictorial structures is related to the ideas behind Pop Art.