Pop Life

Warhol, Haring, Koons, Hirst, …

Pop Life brings together some of the best-known names of the past decades. All of these star artists have orchestrated their work and their public persona to achieve maximum presence in the mass media. They have at all times openly striven for material success by systematically exploiting the advertising strategies and sales mechanisms of the market.

The first part of the exhibition is dedicated to Andy Warhol who started to re-use his own motifs in works after 1968, appeared in TV commercials and hosted his own TV talkshow, published the magazine Interview, developed “Warhol” as a trademark, and surrounded himself with the rich, the stars and the best-known artists in order to be seen as a world celebrity. Warhol’s dictum that ‘good business is the best art’ has become an open credo for many younger artists.

Keith Haring’s Pop Shop, opened in New York in the Eighties to sell his graffiti art and tags like a fashion collection, will be reconstructed in the show – including its own outlet for Haring products. Jeff Koons is represented by the famous series Made in Heaven, in which he publicly celebrated his sexual union with La Cicciolina, his bride-to-be. The European side of the story features prominently with the Young British Artists (YBAs), Martin Kippenberger and Maurizio Cattelan. The exhibition includes works from Damien Hirst’s auction Beautiful Inside My Head Forever at Sotheby’s in London, where his works were sold at record prices in 2008, and continues with a room created by Takashi Murakami, the Japanese artist who has founded a world-spanning corporation for the distribution of his artistic products.

With its strong visual sensations, Pop Life has the seductive and lively atmosphere of a market place. Exactly because of the artists’ hard-hitting approach to the subject, the blend of art and commerce has brought forth of a number of outstanding works that have to be seen as both affirmation and at the same time critique of the prevailing capitalist climate.

Pop Life is an exhibition by Tate Modern, London, realized in cooperation with the Hamburger Kunsthalle.