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Review: Pop Art Design at the Barbican

Friday 01 November 2013
Words Alice Bell

We are all familiar with the iconic Pop Art images we’ve seen over the years that have been repeatedly referenced, appropriated and bastardised. The big guns such as Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein’s works have almost become victims to the mass media culture they sought to highlight.

That is exactly why this exhibition is a breath of fresh air. There are a few very familiar pieces (Lichtenstein’s In the Car and Warhols’s Brillo Soap Pads Box made an appearance), but on the whole it was refreshing to see the lesser known and shown pieces.

5. Pop Art Design, Barbican Art Gallery_Spindle
© Gar Powell-Evans 2013. Courtesy Barbican Art Gallery.

The exhibition was given another dimension by looking at how the most influential art movement of the post-war era related to design, both in it’s influence on it and reference from it. Juxtaposing Andy Warhol’s Close Cover Before Striking consisting of a giant reproduction of a Coca-Cola branded matchbox, with original Coca-Cola products and in turn a seat designed to reference Warhol’s famous Campbell’s Soup Cans shows how Pop Art and design have fed into each other and society.

It was interesting seeing how Pop Art led to Postmodernism being illustrated with a whole room of body parts, both giant and life-size, and an array of objects designed to sit and lie on with a twist.

14. Pop Art Design, Barbican Art Gallery_Spindle
© Gar Powell-Evans 2013. Courtesy Barbican Art Gallery.

Pop Art Design is the first comprehensive exhibition to explore the origins, motives and methods of the intense dialogue between the fields of design and art and runs until 9th February 2014 at the Barbican Art Gallery.

Featured image: © Gar Powell-Evans 2013. Courtesy Barbican Art Gallery.