POP Goes the Zimmerli

Since Andy Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup can images first appeared in the 1960s, Pop Art has remained an influential force in contemporary art.  Artists made bold, colorful print imagery ranging from food packaging to politics, from rocket launches to sexy nudes, from ordinary objects to the American Dream.  The Zimmerli Museum on the campus of Rutgers is showcasing Pop Art prints through Dec. 14.

Among the Pop Art print icons in the exhibition are Warhol’s Vegetarian Vegetable from Campbell’s Soup II (1969), and his Electric Chair series (1971), which alludes to America’s continuing debate over capital punishment.  Roy Lichtenstein, whose Pop Art style evolved while he was teaching at Rutgers in the early 1960s, is represented by Sandwich and Soda (1964), Reverie (1965) and Sweet Dreams Baby! (1965). Eduardo Paolozzi’s Moonstrips Empire News (1967) exemplifies the British response to American Pop culture.

Claes Oldenburg’s prints are as zesty in technique as the pizza he depicts.  Robert Rauschenberg adapted his innovative use of photography and collage to create memorable lithographs inspired by such diverse topics as the Wright Brothers’ aviation efforts, the Apollo 11 rocket launch, Olympic sports, politics, and animal chow packaging. Jasper Johns and Jim Dine’s work focused on familiar objects such as ale cans or a shoe; their prints convey aspects of Marcel Duchamp’s readymades, Abstract Expressionism, and personal mark making.

Red Grooms, who caricatured New York City life during the 1971 gas shortage, captures contemporary Manhattan urban life with captivating humor, while James Rosenquist’s prints conjure time-warping visions of the vastness of outer space.

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