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Tate Modern to Show Pop Life: Art in a Material World in October
Pop Shop, Keith Haring. Keith Haring artwork © Estate of Keith Haring. Photo by Charles Dolfi-Michels.

LONDON.- Pop Life: Art in a Material World will propose a re-reading of one of the major legacies of Pop Art. Exploring Andy Warhol’s notorious provocation that ‘good business is the best art’, the exhibition takes Warhol’s influential practice as a starting point. It looks ahead to the various ways that subsequent generations since the 1980s have created their own brands, engaged in self-promotion and developed ideas around the mass media, celebrity and the artist’s persona. Among the artists represented will be Tracey Emin, Damien Hirst, Keith Haring, Martin Kippenberger, Jeff Koons and Takashi Murakami.

The exhibition will propose that the most radical lesson that emerged from the Warhol era is the way artists in our time have not simply represented or commented upon our culture of mass media but have participated in commercialism and infiltrated the publicity machine and the cult of celebrity. The conflation of culture and commerce is sometimes seen as a betrayal of the values associated with modern art. Pop Life: Art in a Material World reveals that, for many artists working after Warhol, to embrace this idea is to engage with modern life on its own terms.

The show will begin with Warhol’s late works including his role as a television personality and publishing impresario. It will lead to rooms dedicated to self-made retrospectives that examine the artist’s use of persona and the role of self-mythologising. They will feature a recreation of Martin Kippenberger’s self-curated 1993 exhibition at the Centre Pompidou, where he appears as a protagonist in many of the works, and Tracey Emin’s first solo show at White Cube in 1994 entitled ‘My Major Retrospective 1963-1993’.

Pop Life: Art in a Material World will present substantial installations reprising relevant milestones in the careers of the exhibition’s influential protagonists. A highlight of the exhibition will be a full-scale reconstruction of Keith Haring’s Pop Shop. Haring opened the Pop Shop in 1986, a retail shop in New York, which sold his branded artistic signature as editioned objects aimed at a mass audience. Items included t-shirts, toys, posters, buttons and magnets aimed at making his artwork available to as wide an audience as possible. Other significant works in the exhibition will be a reconstruction of Jeff Koons’s infamous Made in Heaven exhibition in which the artist immortalized his marital union with Cicciolina, and a specially commissioned installation by Takashi Murakami.

A gallery dedicated the so-called ‘Young British Artists’ will focus on the early performative exploits of the artists including ephemera from Tracey Emin and Sarah Lucas’s shop in Bethnal Green where they created and sold their work. Renowned works such as Gavin Turk’s Pop 1993 will be included as well as an exploration of Damien Hirst’s recent Sotheby’s sale. Tate Modern will also recreate Hirst’s performance shown at Cologne’s ‘Unfair’ art fair in 1992, at the entrance to the exhibition. Identical twins will sit beneath two identical spot paintings for the duration of Pop Life: Art in a Material World. Tate Modern is appealing for identical twins to take part in this performance.

The exhibition is organised by Tate Modern and is co-curated by Jack Bankowsky, Artforum’s Editor at Large, Alison M. Gingeras, Chief Curator of the François Pinault Collection and Catherine Wood, Tate Modern Curator of Contemporary Art and Performance.

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