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September 08, 2005 - Image 14

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The Michigan Daily, 2005-09-08

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14A - The Michigan Daily - Thursday September 8, 2005

ARTS

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Students browse the "Pop!" exhibit at the University of Michigan Museum of Art on Tuesday.

POPULAR REACTION

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CELEBRATE
By Melissa Runstrom
Daily Arts Editor

'60s

ART FINDS RENEWED RELEVANCE

Pop!
Now thru Sept. 25
Free
The University Museum of Art

Too often people pass
through modern-art exhibits
and never really understand
the significance of them.
Many times entire art move-
ments are rendered inacces-
sible merely because no one
takes the time to explain
them, and often rooms and
wall space aren't conducive
to helping create links for
inexperienced art viewers.
The University Museum of
Art admirably took the time
to put together a complete
exhibit and then thoughtfully
position the pieces and pro-
vide explanations. The result
is an inspiring exhibit that
focuses on art from Ameri-
ca's past while drawing con-
nections to its future.
Using the mundane as
symbols for resistance and
uncapped, unquestioned con-
sumerism, the pop art Move-
ment has epitomized an era
and impacted the way many
choose to view and create art.
The pop art of the '50s, '60s
and '70s reflected the con-
troversial nature of the time
- it broke from tradition
and remade or reemphasized,

what artists saw as universal
truths and injustices.
Students with only base
knowledge of art and those
well versed in modern art are
able to reflect on these turbu-
lent times. "Pop!" Illustrates
how the struggles portrayed
by legendary artists like
Warhol, Lichtenstein, Dine
and Oldenburg are still rel-
evant now.
The exhibit features a
vital, succinct collection of
works by pop art luminaries.
,A large portion of the gallery
is devoted to central member
Andy Warhol's works; paint-
ings of Campbell's Soup cans
are displayed alongside boxes
of Brillo Pads and prints of
Marilyn Monroe. Because
of the way Warhol's work is
positioned within the gal-
lery, it's easy to note the way
he juxtaposes consumption
and celebrity. Other single
works, like Wayne Thie-
baud's "Glasses," delicately
accents the uniqueness that

defines the individuals that
make up a society powered
by mass production.
Even if viewers don't
understand the motivation
behind some works on dis-
play, the skill with which the
pieces are created is beautiful,
impressive and can be mov-
ing without any background
information. Pieces such as
Lichtenstein's confrontational
felt banner, "Pistol," or Rob-
ert Indiana's famous "Love"
sculpture are eye catching and
edgy even when the meaning
behind the pieces isn't con-
templated. The stark images
and bold colors resonate with
gallery guests.
Viewers who don't breeze
through the gallery will
leave the "Pop!" exhibit with
a notion of the movement's
history and a sense of the
political and social climate
surrounding the artists when
these works were produced.
Together, the pieces that were
chosen for the exhibit lend
themselves to a sometimes-
jaded stance that is particu-
larly poignant in respect to
current events and the atti-
tudes of many Americans.
Some of the works rein-
terpret and even mock the

importance of classical-art
pieces.. Many artists' oppo-
sition to the Vietnam War
obviously played a large
role in certain works, while
thoughtless consumerism or
the nation's habitual celebri-
ty worship influenced others.
What is most striking about
this exhibit is how relevant
it seems today; the confu-
sion about just how the
nation's role in Iraq should
be defined mirrors the sit-
uation in Vietnam, and the
media's role in our percep-
tion of such events is reflective
of the continuing importance
placed on what can be mass
produced and packaged. And,
of course, there is an obvious
connection between consum-
erism and the high stakes
involved with commodities
such as oil.
The vibrant exhibit is
especially effective at a
time when the country is
divided politically and many
are ambivalent about the
nation's continued involve-
ment in Iraq. Viewers might
go in expecting art with a
uniquely '60s mentality but
are apt to come out linking
the artistic messages with
today's struggles.

PHOTOS BY ALEX DZIADOSZ/Daily
"Clothespin - Four Foot Ver-
sion" by Cfaes Oldenburg.

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