Pop Art was inspired in the early 1960s by popular culture, advertising and kitsch. Think about soup cans, pictures of iconic celebrities, comic book-inspired pictures and bigger-than-life billboard advertising. The artist Tom Wesselmann was a leading Pop Artist, and his peers included Warhol, Lichtenstein and Oldenburg, all of whom are represented in VMFA’s collection.
The museum’s permanent collection also includes an entire room dedicated to the Pop Art movement. In fact, two of VMFA’s own Wesselmann works are traveling as a part of the Pop Art and Beyond exhibition. The Wesselmann estate has loaned two additional works for permanent collection galleries so his work can be represented in the context of that important collection.
This show is a retrospective, which means it is an overview of an artist’s entire lifetime of work. Wesselmann made his mark as a Pop Artist, but his work continued to evolve throughout his career, and that’s what makes this exhibition so rich and informative. Retrospectives allow viewers to understand the complete artist, rather than to just see several of his works in isolation.
Color and scale have a dramatic effect on the visitor’s experience. Some of the elements are taken directly from billboard advertising, as the artist appropriated these elements of popular culture. But the art is also grounded in formal art history. Just like the Mona Lisa, many of his paintings contain a window with a curtain and a view to the world beyond. This artist had a creative vision which included rich, saturated color that shaped his work throughout his entire career.
VMFA always offers dimensional experiences for all age groups, providing many ways to deepen understanding and enjoyment of art. Adult lectures and classes, programs for teens and younger children, and free daily tours throughout the museum are offered. Amuse Restaurant and the VMFA shop allow the art to inspire their offerings as well, so you can appreciate Pop Art when you shop and dine as well! Find a list of related programs here: http://vmfa.museum/exhibitions/wesselmann.aspx
VMFA is lucky to have a magnificent building and over 40,000 members. And they are the only art museum in the US which is open 365 days a year. So don your beret and indulge your artsy side!