Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Pop Life: Art in a Material World

I've been meaning to go to the Pop Life: Art in a Material World exhibition at the Tate Modern for a while. Today I did. And I liked it. The only setback to it was that there wasn't enough time to get through all of the pieces. There was so much to see, owing to the very mass-produced ethos behind the 'Popism' movement. It was great to see Andy Warhol set within his context of a 1980's endorsement-slut, as the Tate Modern's last lengthy retrospective of his work (a good few years back) didn't really show much of this side of him, preferring to dwell on his work in the light of the seismic social shifts of the sixties and the sleazy seventies. Mate, alliteration. This exhibition showed Andy Warhol selling out, carving a niche for celebrity adulation and reality television. He almost seems innocent about it, though. Not realising that a five-minute film of him making a very mundane phone-call would, over the course of three decades, transform into multi-platform accessible TV footage of a Ms Katie Price from Brighton gobble up an array of splintery insects at the request of a lynchmob public and two scrawny Geordies with very odd-shaped faces. Or that his mantra 'In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes' would be the justification for all that is ITV.

My friend Tara was saying how she almost cried whilst looking at some of the photography at the National Portrait Gallery. This was perhaps an exaggeration, but there is a condition called Stendhal syndrome where, upon seeing vast, beautiful art, the 'sufferer' experiences hallucinations, palpitations, dizziness and confusion. This is a far cry (oh god) from weeping during New Moon because ohmygod R-Pattz. This is being so psychologically affected by a piece of art that your mind starts re-wiring itself. Stendhal syndrome is also called 'Florence syndrome', as it was first identified after over 200 tourists in the late 1970s experienced the above listed wonders after taking in some art in the Italian city. If Florentine art facilitates Stendhal syndrome, then, a lot less romantically, the Pop Shop facilitates pure consumerism. I have never wanted to buy something so much from an art exhibition before. I felt as if I had become a cartoon and that any money I spent would be fake Lego money. Keith Haring made it and it looks a bit like this.

It was covered in t-shirts and mugs and key-chains and all sorts of fun nonsense. I remember his stuff from when I was tiny teeny young, but hadn't seen it anywhere much until Madonna had it as a backing to Get Into The Groove on her Sticky 'n' Sweet tour. Apparently Madonna and Keith were good friends, too. Further proving how wicked Madonna is.

I'd leave a good hour and a half for this exhibition, perhaps even two. Especially if you want to do Tracey Emin's 'My Major Retrospective', a collection of minatures, justice. Also, if you can find me the 'Have you had a wank about me yet?' t-shirts then that would be great. I feel the confessional, bawdy nature of Emin's art was quite well replicated by whoever scrawled 'If you read this you are gay and you like to rub your tits on other girls tits' on the back of a toilet door cubicle on floor three.

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