Go See – London: Pop Life at Tate Modern featuring Andy Warhol, Damien Hirst, Jeff Koons, Keith Haring, Tracey Emin and more. Through January 17, 2010

October 24th, 2009

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Gavin Turk, Pop (1993), showing with Tate Modern’s “Pop Life: Art in a Material World” through January 17. Image via The London Paper.

Tate Modern is currently showing works by artists that embrace mass media and popular culture. Its motto is Andy Warhol’s proclamation that “good business is the best art,” and artists such as Damien Hirst, Jeff Koons, Tracey Emin, and more present works that are, accordingly, a blend of popular and left of center culture. “Pop Life: Art in a Material World,” which also features a new piece by Takashi Murakami, closes on January 17.

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Foreground, House of Martin Luther King (1990), by Rob Pruitt and Walter Early; background, Damien Hirst’s False Idol (2008). From “Pop Life,” images via The Guardian.

more images and story after the jump…

Recalling Jeff Koons’s recent solo show at the Serpentine in which the Popeye cartoons figured prominently, “Pop Life” reminds patrons that art reflects its context, and today’s context is the material world. Art is borne of society, but it also changes it. Art sells, but selling is art — as these societal commentaries which the show’s artists paint and install infiltrate popular culture. There is a give-and-take here, with an ironic twist. Tate comments, “The conflation of culture and commerce is typically seen as a betrayal of the values associated with modern art; this exhibition contends that, for many artists working after Warhol, to cross this line is to engage with modern life on its own terms.”

Jeff Koons Rabbit 1986 Pop Life Tate Modern
Jeff Koons, Rabbit (1986), © the artist. Image courtesy Tate Modern.

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Damien Hirst, Aurothioglucose (2008), © the artist. Photo: Sotheby’s. Image courtesy Tate Modern.

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Hiropon (1997), by Takashi Murakami, at Tate Modern. Image via The Guardian.

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Tracey Emin and Sarah Lucas in The Shop, White Cube © Tracey Emin. All rights reserved, DACS 2009. Photo: Carl Freedman. Image courtesy Tate Modern.

At the doorway to “Pop Life” sit always identical twins beneath twin spot paintings, in homage to the original 1992 showing by Damien Hirst at Cologne “Unfair.”  The show’s springboard is a set of late Warhol works, drawn from the Retrospectives/Reversals series. Also featured are seldom-exhibited reconstructions of Keith Haring’s Pop Shop and Jeff Koons’s Made In Heaven, a series first shown at the 1990 Venice Biennale that features the artist and his then-wife, Italian porn star and Parliament member La Cicciolina (Ilona Staller), in various sexual positions. Gavin Turk presents Pop (1993) [title picture], and Damien Hirst has several pieces culled from the recent Sotheby’s auction of his work, “Beautiful Inside My Head Forever.”

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Damien Hirst’s Ingo, Torsten (1992), at Tate Modern. Image via The Guardian.

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Recreation of Keith Haring’s Pop Shop, at Tate Modern. Image via The Guardian.

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Detail from Keith Haring’s Pop Shop, © Keith Haring artwork © Estate of Keith Haring . Photo: Charles Dolfi-Michels. Image courtesy Tate Modern.

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Above and below, pieces from the Made in Heaven series, by Jeff Koons and showing at Tate Modern. Images via The London Paper and The Guardian, respectively.
jeff koons made in heaven pop life la cicciolina dirty-jeff on top 1991 tate modern

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Piotr Uklanski’s The Nazis, at Tate Modern. Image via The Guardian.

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Meyer Vaisman, In the Vicinity of History (1988), at Tate Modern. Image via The Guardian.

Related links:
Pop Life, Art in a Material World [Tate Modern]
Pop Life, Art Review [The Observer]
Pop Life at Tate Modern [The Telegraph]
‘Pop Life': The Art of ‘Selling Out’ [Wall Street Journal]
Tate Modern opens “Pop Life – Art in a Material World” [Art Knowledge News]
Tate Modern seeks identical twins for blockbuster pop art show [The London Paper]
Huge Inflatable Rabbit On Display At Covent Garden As Part of New Tate Modern Exhibition [Sky News]
Photo nude 10-year-old Brooke Shelds, ‘Spiritual Americana,’ part of Tate Modern pop art exhibit [New York Daily News] and Tate replaces nude child picture [BBC News]

– R. Fogel