Pop Life: Art in a Material World
Ottawa (Ontario) - June 9, 2010
National Gallery of Canada brings international superstars of the contemporary art world to Ottawa
Contemporary art and artists, celebrity, notoriety, branding and mass media, fame and fortune are essential elements of the provocative exhibition Pop Life: Art in a Material World, presented by the National Gallery of Canada (NGC) this summer. Organized by Tate Modern in London (U.K.) in association with the NGC, the Gallery will be its sole North American venue. Already renowned for its presentations in London and Hamburg, this major exhibition has carved an international reputation and is on view in Ottawa from June 11 until September 19, 2010.
Originating from Andy Warhol’s startling premise that “good business is the best kind of art,” Pop Life examines a relevant yet under-explored chapter in recent art history. The exhibition begins with an original rereading of Warhol’s later period from the late-1970s until his death in 1987, before exploring his direct and indirect influence on a subsequent generation of contemporary artists whose work deliberately blurs the lines between art, culture and the marketplace. Through their visually engaging artworks, the artists in Pop Life not only comment on consumer culture, but in many cases have participated directly with the mechanisms of the media in order to reach mainstream audiences. In so doing, they embrace celebrity and commerce as a foundation of their work. For more information on this exhibition visit www.gallery.ca/poplife.
“Pop Life is one of the most intelligent international contemporary art exhibitions being presented today and we are very grateful to Tate Modern for their collaboration,” said NGC Director, Marc Mayer. “While these artists are household names to many Canadians, exhibitions of their work in this country have been rare.”
Pop Life brings together more than 250 paintings, drawings, prints, sculptures, videos, installations, multiples and ephemera produced over the past three decades. The critically acclaimed artists represented include: Andy Warhol, Keith Haring, Jeff Koons, Richard Prince, Pruitt Early, Damien Hirst, Tracey Emin, Sarah Lucas, Gavin Turk, Cosey Fanni Tutti, Martin Kippenberger,Maurizio Cattelan,Takashi Murakami and Piotr Uklański.
While the Ottawa presentation of Pop Life has remained true to the overall spirit and themes of the London and Hamburg presentations, one variation to the exhibition in Ottawa has been to add the work of Toronto-based General Idea (active 1968-1996). These artists were very much front and centre in Neo-Pop developments on the national and international arts’ scene throughout the 1970s, 80s and 90s.
“Pop Life is the largest exhibition to date to tackle head-on the way in which contemporary art and artists negotiate the art market and the broader realms wherein art is seen, critiqued, bought and sold,” said NGC Assistant Curator of Contemporary Art and the exhibition’s coordinating curator, Jonathan Shaughnessy. “However, Pop Life is not simply an account of artists who have achieved remarkable success. It also shows how a generation of artists working after Warhol learned to use his “business art” model to their own ends, and in so doing, created a space for their art and ideas within the art world and the broader mainstream.”
Pop Life is an entertaining exhibition designed to appeal to a broad range of audiences. Highlights include Keith Haring’s Pop Shop, which is the first commercial installation that the Gallery has ever incorporated into an exhibition. Damien Hirst’s Untitled (Twins Performance) is another fascinating feature as this installation requires the participation of live identical twins. To date, over 70 sets of twins from across Canada have expressed interest in participating in this work. Other twins who may be interested in registering should consult the Pop Life website at www.gallery.ca/poplife for further information. Jeff Koons popular Rabbit and the Made in Heaven series are also presented as well as Andy Warhol’s self-portrait, the famous celebrity portraits of Marilyn Monroe and artist Joseph Beuys, and Gavin Turk’s famous sculptural self-portrait as Sid Vicious.
Accompanying this exhibition is an exceptional range of educational programs designed to entertain, inform, and ignite discussion and debate. These include the Pop After Pop Panel Discussion on June 12 and the NGC/Walrus Magazine Debate on June 17. Please see the separate fact sheet provided for further information or visit the Pop Life website at www.gallery.ca/poplife
For the first time, a new Pop Kids program for children aged between 6 – 12 years is being organized so that parents can explore the Pop Life exhibition at their leisure. For more information please see the exhibition’s website at www.gallery.ca/poplife.
Pop Life: Art in a Material World is accompanied by a 207 page fully-illustrated catalogue published by Tate Modern and includes essays by Jack Bankowsky, Scott Rothkopf, Catherine Wood, Nicholas Cullinan and Alison M. Gingeras. It can be purchased in the NGC Bookstore and online at www.shopNGC.ca at a cost of $39.95 to the public and $33.96 for NGC Members.
Books and mementos
Visit the Pop Shop in the exhibition for Keith Haring’s exclusive merchandise and the Gallery’s Bookstore for an array of books and exhibition-related mementos such as books, t-shirts, water bottles, note cards, decorative items, buttons, tote bags, cell phone straps and much more. Specific items are also retailed through www.shopNGC.ca.
The NGC thanks its exhibition partners
The National Gallery of Canada thanks Panasonic for providing the 103-inch plasma screen showing AKIHABARA MAJOKKO-PRINCESS by Takashi Murakami, The Contemporary Art Circle of the National Gallery of Canada and its media partners, la Télévision de Radio-Canada, CBC Television, The Ottawa Citizen and Le Droit, for their support of this exhibition.
About the National Gallery of Canada
The National Gallery of Canada is home to the most important collections of historical and contemporary Canadian art in the world. In addition, it has pre-eminent collections of Indigenous, Western and European Art from the 14th to the 21st century, American and Asian Art as well as drawings and photography. Created in 1880, it is among the oldest of Canada’s national, cultural institutions. As part of its mandate to make Canadian art accessible across the country, the NGC has one of the largest touring exhibition programs in the world. For more information, visit www.gallery.ca.
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Note to editors: The NGC’s online Media Centre, reserved exclusively for use by accredited journalists and other media representatives, provides a bank of images for Pop Life: Art in a Material World. The NGC has obtained copyright permission on behalf of the media but solely for editorial purposes directly linked to this exhibition. Register for online access at: http://gallery.ca/english/mediaLogin.jsp.
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