Pop Art: A Critical History / Edition 1

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Pop Art: A Critical History chronicles one of the most controversial art movements of the century. The anthology draws from a great range of sources, from the leading art magazines and art historical journals to newspapers and news magazines such as the New York Times, Life, and Newsweek. What emerges from this rich cross-section of critical and journalistic commentary is a fascinating view of the tumultuous rise of Pop art and its establishment as a major force in contemporary art. A broad selection of articles traces the emergence of the movement itself in England and America, as seen through the eyes of the working critics of the day. The focus then narrows to present in-depth writings on the four major Pop artists: Roy Lichtenstein, Claes Oldenburg, James Rosenquist, and Andy Warhol, along with an examination of many other artists involved in the movement. From reviews of the very first shows of many of these artists to interviews with them, to news stories about their collectors and their lifestyles, Pop Art: A Critical History represents the most complete and coherent record of Pop art yet published. The book concludes with an invaluable chronology of the major '60s exhibitions by Pop artists. Among the contributors are Lawrence Alloway, John Coplans, Donald Judd, Max Kozloff, Gerald Nordland, Peter Plagens, Barbara Rose, Robert Rosenblum, John Russell, Gene Swenson, and Sidney Tillim.

Author Biography: Steven Henry Madoff is a widely published art critic and former executive editor of ARTnews magazine. He is currently an editor at Time Inc. New Media.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
This not-to-be-missed anthology collects stimulating articles, interviews, and other texts defining "the phenomenon of Pop." Art critic Madoff contributes a fine introductory overview and then presents 94 critical articles, negative and positive, on this brash, vulgar, successful style. Most are culled from contemporary American art magazines and newspapers during the Pop era of the 1960s. Students and specialists alike will find overlooked or forgotten material here and will especially note that many early discussions still ring true today. The book's five sections are precursors, reviews dating from 1962 to 1970, major artists (Lichtenstein, Oldenburg, Rosenquist, and Warhol), 11 artists on the periphery, and a few articles from the 1970s to the 1990s. Discussions of single artists are most interesting, with the one on Warhol a standout. There is heavy reading but also journalistic stylings that will appeal to anyone interested in American culture of the Sixties. Highly recommended.Mary Hamel-Schwulst, Towson State Univ., Md.
Kirkus Reviews
A useful if dense compilation of texts illuminating Pop Art's historical origins, inception, rise to success, and legacy.

Among the materials Madoff, former executive editor of ARTnews, has gathered is a terse, fascinating letter by the British artist Richard Hamilton concerning the 1957 "This Is Tomorrow" exhibition, regarded as the first Pop Art show. A 1958 article by Lawrence Alloway, who coined the term "Pop," defiantly announces the vitality and importance of the mass arts, as opposed to the old elitist fine arts. Madoff next samples the critics' response to America's outbreak of Pop (which was initially referred to as Neo- Dada), including pieces on the "four-headed goliath" of the movement, Warhol, Lichtenstein, Rosenquist, and Oldenburg. The book's final section offers a handful of essays (by, among others, Roland Barthes and Robert Hughes) written up to 30 years after Pop's emergence. What comes through within this simple yet generous framework is a good measure of skepticism and fear about Pop's importance, mixed with some serious attempts to locate the meaning of art that mimicked our fascination with the representational image, an art nurtured by, in the words of Henry Geldzahler, the "popular press, . . . the movie closeup, black and white, technicolor and wide screen, the billboard extravaganzas, and finally . . . television." There is clarity in Hamilton's analysis (Pop Art is, he writes, "popular . . . transient . . . expendable"), as well as in the later essays, where distance aids the effort to define goals, impact, and meaning. But the bulk of the material has to be waded through, congested as it is with the struggle to process the onslaught of new media assailing the public.

Readers will have to distill their own meaning and context for Pop Art from this anthology. It is not a cozy read, but a necessary compendium to slip on and off of the shelf.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780520212435
  • Publisher: University of California Press
  • Publication date: 11/15/1997
  • Series: Documents of Twentieth-Century Art Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 450
  • Sales rank: 1,271,971
  • Product dimensions: 7.00 (w) x 10.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Steven Henry Madoff is a widely published art critic and former executive editor of ARTnews magazine. He is currently an editor at Time
Inc. New Media.

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