Nita Mukesh Ambani Cultural Centre Presents American Pop Art In India

The Pop: Fame, Love And Power exhibit comprises American pop art pieces from the 1960s onwards curated by Lawrence Van Hagen


The Nita Mukesh Ambani Cultural Centre presents Pop: Fame, Love And Power, an exhibit of seminal American Pop Art pieces from the 1960s onwards. Curated by Lawrence Van Hagen, this is the first-ever museum exhibition of American Pop Art in India.

The exhibition will take audiences on an art-filled historical journey through the golden years of the pop art phenomenon, tracing three themes intrinsically tied to the origins of the movement: fame, love and power. The exhibition will present works by twelve artists including Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, and Robert Rauschenberg. The exhibition will open at the Art House – the Cultural Centre’s dedicated visual art space – on 1 December 2023 and will extend to 11 February 2024.

“This vivid, colourful, and imaginative exhibit fulfils the Cultural Centre’s promise of bringing the best of international art experiences to India. The showcase is special not only because it traces the incredible legacy of Pop Art, but because it has an unmistakable sense of fun about it. I’m especially excited to see it strike a chord with younger audiences and foster a culture of creativity with inspirations that go beyond time and space.” said Isha Ambani.

Pop Art was a genre that flourished in America during the late 1950s, responding to rapid transformations of media and commercialism, the increasing rise in popular culture and ever-shifting consumer habits. The Pop Art movement aimed to blur the boundaries between ‘high’ art and ‘low’ culture. The concept that there is no hierarchy of culture and that art may borrow from any source was one of the most influential characteristics of the movement, and it led artists like Andy Warhol and Roy Lichenstein to transform canned goods and comic books into powerful works of art.

Pop: Fame, Love And Power has artworks drawn from museums, artist estates, art foundations and private art collections globally. Most of these artists have never been exhibited in India prior to this exhibition.

For this exhibition, the themes of Fame, Love and Power will span across the three floors of the Art House, with each floor dedicated to an individual theme. The fourth and last floor of the Art House will be dedicated to an installation titled ‘Silver Clouds’ by Warhol.

“The Pop movement arose out of a time in America of unprecedented change, both economically and culturally.” says curator Lawrence Van Hagen. “In many ways, India is going through a similar transformation into a global, powerhouse economy in its own right. I believe this exhibition will spark fascinating parallels between these ‘golden decades’ in the US and the global transformation India is having at this very moment.”

The first floor of Pop, dedicated to Fame has pieces of the Pop movement works which reflected the meteoric rise of celebrity culture in the 1960s and 1970s of America, as well as the cult of television, and the romance and myth of Americana. Viewers will encounter four celebrity portals (Giorgio Armani, Aretha Franklin, Gianni Versace and Sylvester Stallone) of ‘Andy Warhol’ in dialogue with the artist's own self-portrait as well as ‘45 Gold Marilyn’ a silkscreen painting of Marilyn Monroe. Furthermore, this floor will also include several works by Ed Ruscha such as ‘Level as a Level’ (2002) from the Mountain series inspired by the artist’s obsession with Hollywood.

The second floor is dedicated to Love. The room will bring together five artists of the Pop movement who explored, questioned and rendered the theme of love— from Robert Indiana’s explorations of romance and passion to Keith Haring’s statements on unity and human connection. This floor will showcase numerous works by these artists – from a 6-foot Love Sculpture in direct juxtaposition to two works by Tom Wesselmann from his bedroom series as well as ‘Portrait of a Woman’ (1979) by Lichtenstein. This floor explores the sense of love, unity, friendship, collaboration and idealisation of beauty that artists capture within their subject matter.

The third floor explores the theme of Power. From Warhol and Ruscha’s obsession with branding and advertising to Rauschenberg’s fascination with television and the rapidly changing media landscape, this floor will analyse pop art’s relationship to the themes of power that pervaded the political, cultural and commercial landscapes of the mid-late 20th century. On this floor, two pieces by Warhol – Sixteen Jackies (1964) and Flowers (1964-65) – explore notions of power, symbolism and loss relating to Jackie Kennedy and John F. Kennedy. Also on the floor, Elaine Sturtevant’s Flower series challenges the power dynamics of appropriation and the act of imitation. Furthermore, viewers will discover two works by Rauschenberg: Periwinkle Shaft (1979), a nine-meter collage painting alongside Gulch (1962).

The exhibition culminates on the fourth floor with an interactive experience titled Silver Cloud by Warhol, created in 1966. This installation consists of a room full of floating metallic balloons. The balloons are inflated with a proprietary mixture of air and pure helium, enabling them to float in the space between the floor and the ceiling.

The full list of artists presented includes Andy Warhol, Claes Oldenburg, Coosje van Bruggen, Ed Ruscha, Elaine Sturtevant, James Rosenquist, Jim Dine, Keith Haring, Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Rauschenberg, Robert Indiana and Tom Wesselmann.

Pop: Fame, Love and Power marks the third art exhibition taking place at the Nita Mukesh Ambani Cultural Centre. As part of the Cultural Centre’s initiative of making art accessible to all – entry to students of fine arts, children below the age of 7 and senior citizens will be free. Complementing the exhibition, the Art House will offer an array of interactive activities designed to inspire creativity and inculcate interest in the arts.

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