Pop Life: Art in a Material World opens at the National Gallery

Ottawa (Ontario) – June 9, 2010

National Gallery of Canada brings international superstars of the contemporary art world to Ottawa

Contemporary art and artists, celebrity, notoriety, branding and mass media, fame and fortune are essential elements of the provocative exhibition Pop Life: Art in a Material World, presented by the National Gallery of Canada (NGC) this summer. Organized by Tate Modern in London (U.K.) in association with the NGC, the Gallery will be its sole North American venue. Already renowned for its presentations in London and Hamburg, this major exhibition has carved an international reputation and is on view in Ottawa from June 11 until September 19, 2010.

Originating from Andy Warhol’s startling premise that “good business is the best kind of art,” Pop Life examines a relevant yet under-explored chapter in recent art history. The exhibition begins with an original rereading of Warhol’s later period from the late-1970s until his death in 1987, before exploring his direct and indirect influence on a subsequent generation of contemporary artists whose work deliberately blurs the lines between art, culture and the marketplace. Through their visually engaging artworks, the artists in Pop Life not only comment on consumer culture, but in many cases have participated directly with the mechanisms of the media in order to reach mainstream audiences. In so doing, they embrace celebrity and commerce as a foundation of their work. For more information on this exhibition visit www.gallery.ca/poplife.

“Pop Life is one of the most intelligent international contemporary art exhibitions being presented today and we are very grateful to Tate Modern for their collaboration,” said NGC Director, Marc Mayer. “While these artists are household names to many Canadians, exhibitions of their work in this country have been rare.”

Pop Life brings together more than 250 paintings, drawings, prints, sculptures, videos, installations, multiples and ephemera produced over the past three decades. The critically acclaimed artists represented include: Andy Warhol, Keith Haring, Jeff Koons, Richard Prince,  Pruitt Early, Damien Hirst, Tracey Emin, Sarah Lucas, Gavin Turk, Cosey Fanni Tutti, Martin Kippenberger,Maurizio Cattelan,Takashi Murakami and Piotr Uklański.

While the Ottawa presentation of Pop Life has remained true to the overall spirit and themes of the London and Hamburg presentations, one variation to the exhibition in Ottawa has been to add the work of Toronto-based General Idea (active 1968-1996). These artists were very much front and centre in Neo-Pop developments on the national and international arts’ scene throughout the 1970s, 80s and 90s.

“Pop Life is the largest exhibition to date to tackle head-on the way in which contemporary art and artists negotiate the art market and the broader realms wherein art is seen, critiqued, bought and sold,” said NGC Assistant Curator of Contemporary Art and the exhibition’s coordinating curator, Jonathan Shaughnessy. “However, Pop Life is not simply an account of artists who have achieved remarkable success. It also shows how a generation of artists working after Warhol learned to use his “business art” model to their own ends, and in so doing, created a space for their art and ideas within the art world and the broader mainstream.”

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