Review: The World Goes Pop at Tate Modern

There are new pop stars in town – and it’s not who you might expect in the latest exhibition at the Tate Modern. Open now, this bright and comprehensive study of Pop Art from around the world takes a different view of the story of the art movement and shows how various cultures contributed and responded to the movement.

Refreshing. That’s one word to sum up this display of 160 works from the 1960s and 70s, from one of the most ubiquitous art movements of the last century. We’re all familiar with Warhol’s soup cans or Lichtenstein’s giant comic strip frames, but neither artist feature, except hinted at in homage. Even the layout of the exhibition is refreshing – eschewing the traditional white walls for bright colours reflecting the themes of each room.

Equipo Crónica 'El realism socialista y el Pop Art en el campo de batalla' 1969, Acrylic on canvas. © Equipo Cronica (Manolo Valdés and Rafael Solbes), courtesy Marlborough Gallery, New York
Equipo Crónica ‘El realism socialista y el Pop Art en el campo de batalla’ 1969, Acrylic on canvas. © Equipo Cronica (Manolo Valdés and Rafael Solbes), courtesy Marlborough Gallery, New York

The show reveals the alternative stories and key figures of the era who have often been left out of mainstream Pop Art history. The movement was not just a comment on Western consumerism, but was also a subversive international language for criticism and public protest across the globe. In fact, this exhibtion is highly political; artworks created during a time of great upheaval and change.

Rabascall
Joan Rabascall ‘Atomic Kiss’ 1968, Acrylic on canvas. © ADAGP, Paris and DACS

War, sexuality and people power are recurring themes throughout the exhibition – all of which still seem startlingly relevant in this day and age. It’s almost disturbing to see how little has changed in the last 50 years since these works were created; women are still sexualised in the media, people are under the control of strict regimes and the fringes of society are squeezed out and left to suffer.

Pop gets political, and there has never been a better time for it.

The EY Exhibition: The World Goes Pop is open until 24 January 2016 at Tate Modern.