Pop protest: Art for an Anxious Age

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The Independent Culture

Drawing on the Wolverhampton Art Gallery's extensive collection of Pop Art, 'Pop Protest' compares two 'ages of anxiety' in our recent history - 1965-1975 and 2000-2010 - and explores what made these periods so politically and artistically turbulent.

In both periods Pop artists acted as social commentators, confronting political issues head on and taking the Vietnam and Iraq wars as subjects for their work.

A number of Pop artists who were moved to address international politics during the 60s and 70s have returned to political subjects in the last ten years, largely out of protest over the actions of the British and American governments on the international stage.

The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have led to an increasing distrust of politicians, the political system and the ability of politicians to represent and protect the interests of individuals. These issues were also relevant to artists working in the context of the Vietnam War: the exhibition therefore provides opportunities to strike parallels between the two ages/artistic climates.

The exhibition includes Gerald Laing’s series of War Paintings (2002-present) along with Derek Boshier’s Pantomine War works which look at the Iraq war and the controversy surrounding the actions of the American military - in particular the abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison.

Taking a different approach, Clive Barker looks at the role of politicians as architects of war and the general public’s burgeoning distrust of public figures. In Shock and Awe (2007-8) Hamilton’s depiction of Tony Blair is left open to interpretation, while Jann Haworth made The Hollow Men (2003) in direct protest against the Bush administration.

'Pop Protest: Art for an Anxious Age' runs at the Wolverhampton Art Gallery ( http://www.wolverhamptonart.org.uk/wolves) until October 30. Join Pop Protest curator Zoë Lippett for a free tour of the exhibition between 2pm and 2.30pm on June 12.