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Pop Art - April 2014

In celebration of The Art League's 60th Anniversary in 2014, the Gallery is revisiting and reflecting upon the major art movements from the last six decades.

Pop Art
April 9–May 4, 2014
Robin Nicholson, VMFA Deputy Director
Thursday, April 10, 6:30-8:00 pm

Links: Exhibit Program | View on Flickr

Klafangled #4, UV-cured ink on mylar by Arlie Hammons, Marshall Award winner


Juror's Dialogue

For Robin Nicholson, jurying “Pop Art” was about joining two eras in history: exploring the methods and themes of the pop artists from the 1960s inside the cultural and artistic world of 2014.

Because jurying takes place in one day, much of the juror’s decisions comes down to the “wow factor” in the initial impression, Nicholson said, which is what the theme is all about. An important part of that immediate impact is a piece’s originality, he said.

Nicholson also looked for the influence of Pop Art: mass production, artificial color, subjects from contemporary life and culture. The most successful pieces took inspiration from early pop artists while finding their own angle — an ironic proposition given the movement’s emphasis on multiples and reproduction. As a result, the finished exhibit has many layers of meaning and influence.

Works that weren’t selected were largely missing the sense of freshness and an updated approach. The Pop Art influence wasn’t a requirement for the exhibit, but to make the show work as a whole, Nicholson said he favored works that followed the theme.

Given the theme, Nicholson said, he was surprised to see only a small number of three-dimensional submissions. Among the different media, photographs and oils had the strongest competition, he said.

Nicholson gave three awards as well as six honorable mentions. The Marshall Award for best in show went to a computer-generated painting printed with UV-cured ink on mylar. Although the UV-cured ink was a medium Nicholson had not seen before, mylar was a material the innovative Pop artist Tom Wesselmann had championed in his famous cut-out “wall drawings”, which made the work particularly interesting. The piece, Klafangled #4 by Arlie Hammons, had the key ingredients for the exhibit: a reference to the past with an updated, original approach. The piece uses the instantly recognizable “palette of pop” in a powerful, abstract composition, creating something like deconstructed pop, Nicholson said.

For the Juror’s Choice Award, Nicholson chose Lifesaver, a digital photo by Claire Carroll. It’s a very simple photograph that makes an impact with the bubblegum pink inner tube against the blue of the water. Presence by Nancy Fortwengler stood out among the pastel submissions and was recognized with the Carol Bruce Pastel Award.

Robin Nicholson is the Deputy Director for Art and Education at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond, Virginia. He will give a free talk at The Art League Thursday, April 24, from 7:00–8:30 pm, on the subject “Pop Art & Beyond: The Art of Tom Wesselmann.” This talk follows the 2013 exhibition of that name at the VMFA, and will explore the long career of one of the least known among the major pop artists. Space is limited, so please RSVP via the link below:


Special Lecture


Eventbrite - Pop Art and Beyond: The Art of Tom Wesselmann

Pop Art and Beyond:
The Art of Tom Wesselmann
Thursday, April 24, 7:00–8:30 pm

Robin Nicholson, deputy director of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, will discuss well-known pop artist Tom Wesselmann. In the 1960s, Wesselmann (1931–2004) — along with Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, James Rosenquist, Claes Oldenburg, and Jim Dine — formed the core of the Pop Art movement in the United States. Long after Pop Art’s crest, in a career spanning more than four decades, Wesselmann continued to create a highly original and accomplished body of work. Nonetheless, he is the last of this group to have a major U.S. exhibition and is perhaps the least known of these artists.  Following on from the successful retrospective at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in 2013, this talk explores the artist’s diverse career and inspirations.

Space is limited! Register here for this free event.

Promotional support for our 60th Anniversary has been generously provided by the Alexandria Marketing Fund.



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