The Real Thing brings together works of Pop Art and Minimalism from the National Galleries of Scotland’s permanent collection.
A movement of the 1950s to the 1970s that was primarily based in Britain and the United States, Pop Art is so called because artists used imagery from popular culture sources such as advertising, commercial design, and mass media to create their work. Prominent British pop artists include David Hockney, Richard Hamilton and Eduardo Paolozzi, whilst Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol were leading figures in the American context.
Meanwhile Minimalism, an art movement originating in the US from the 1960s onwards, was in part a reaction against the flamboyance of Pop Art. Characterised by a lack of expressiveness, minimalist art is simple, ordered, non-representational. Working primarily in sculpture, minimalist artists, such as Donald Judd, Carl Andre and Dan Flavin, used modern materials to make geometric objects. Rejecting description and metaphor, they sought to make work that was exactly what it was and nothing more; with minimalist art, what you see is what you get.
Though disparate in appearance, common threads run through Pop Art and Minimalism and these pertain to notions of the real. Both pop artists and minimalists are fascinated by the mundane reality of consumerist society. Both tend toward using or evoking mass-produced objects. Both strive to make art that looks machine-manufactured rather than hand-made.
Two artists featured in The Real Thing are the focus of Andy Warhol and Eduardo Paolozzi | I want to be a machine, at Modern Two from 17 November 2018 until 2 June 2019. Creating art that both reflected and celebrated an increasingly mechanised, post-war consumerist society, Andy Warhol copied images from popular and commercial culture, whilst British artist Eduardo Paolozzi used similarly sourced material to produce collages of man/machine hybrids. In a turn that reflected their zeal for mechanisation, in the early 1960s, both artists turned to screenprinting as a process of artistic production.
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The Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art is located 15 minutes’ walk from Princes Street. It includes two buildings, Modern One and Modern Two, set in a beautiful sculpture park.
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