April 10, 2006
Director of Media Relations

AMHERST, Mass.—The Mead Art Museum will present an exhibition called Pop! from April 20 to Aug. 21, featuring prints from the 1960s and 1970s from its permanent collection, as well as additional works from the Smith College Museum of Art.

The Pop movement, which first emerged in England in the 1950s, was a reaction to the postwar economic boom occurring in Europe and the United States. Quickly embraced by a young generation of artists working in America, Pop art embodied a new level of commentary on the role of art in culture. As artists realized the potential of the rapidly changing technological world and its impact on mass media, they also grasped the significance of the everyday object—the soup can, the alphabet, the celebrity figure, the comic strip—and appropriated it as an aesthetic impulse that was accessible, immediate and extensive in its appeal.

Characterized by its familiar imagery, bold colors and incisive wit, Pop art celebrated popular culture with a sense of vibrant, cheeky fun and jaded irony while it endowed its icons with mythological stature. At times Pop art provided a political vehicle that commented on the crass commercialism of society or protested against the Vietnam War. More often, the Pop artists echoed the new hedonism and social optimism that accompanied the era that ushered in women’s liberation and civil rights and sent a man to the moon.

This exhibition brings together the work of nine American artists—Jim Dine, Red Grooms, Robert Indiana, Jasper Johns, Roy Lichtenstein, Claes Oldenburg, Robert Rauschenberg, Andy Warhol and Tom Wesselmann—all of whom were instrumental to the Pop movement. These works, from the permanent collections of the Mead Art Museum and the Smith College Museum of Art, constitute a microcosm of a movement which, while sometimes dismissed as superficial, is significant as it laid the groundwork for the premium placed on “brand” that we see all around us today.

Until June 4, the Mead Art Museum is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Thursday evenings until 9 p.m. From June 6 to Sept. 3, the Mead is open Tuesday through Sunday from 12 noon to 4 p.m. and Thursday evenings until 8 p.m. More information is available on the museum’s Website at www.amherst.edu/mead or by calling the Mead Art Museum at 413/542-2335. All events are free and open to the public.