Pop on Paper
From Warhol to Lichtenstein

12.05.2020 to 16.08.2020

For the first time ever, Berlin’s Kupferstichkabinett will be presenting the highlights of its Pop Art collection, one of the most important of its kind in Europe. Beginning with American printmaking from the 1960s and the Pop Art pioneers Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein, Pop on Paper covers a broad spectrum – both thematically and stylistically – ranging from work by artists as diverse as Claes Oldenburg, James Rosenquist and Elaine Sturtevant through to European figures such as Allen Jones, Sigmar Polke und Maria Lassnig, and right up into the present day.

One of the central elements of “classic” Pop Art was how it worked with the trivial, mass-produced and distributed imagery and products of American consumer society, from the humble soup can and the comic strip through to the press photos of Jackie O, the widow of JFK. But not all Pop Art was created alike. Alongside “outsiders” such as Jim Dine, there were also Minimalist tendencies, as seen in the abstract, geometrical iconography of Robert Indiana, Gerald Laing and Allan D’Arcangelo.

Silkscreen Printing and the Great Graphic Boom

What unites Warhol, Lichtenstein and their colleagues is their concerted and creative use of printmaking techniques, which allowed them to disseminate their compositions – produced as paintings and sculptures – to a larger audience, reaching beyond the elitist art market. They achieved this primarily through their use of silkscreen printing. Originating in the world of advertising, this procedure enabled them to reproduce photographic images or to print directly onto plastic and silver backgrounds. Usually exhibiting vivid colours and at times monumental in scale, these works, which were produced in ambitious printmaking workshops during the years of the “Great Graphic Boom” in New York and Los Angeles, show that the impact of Pop Art was made largely through works on paper – hence the title of the exhibition.    

Between Art Prints and Advertising Material

Artists such as Roy Lichtenstein and Robert Indiana were also poster designers, promoting their own exhibitions – at venues such as the legendary New York gallery of Leo Castelli – with unlimited silkscreen and offset prints. As demonstrated by numerous loans from the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin’s Kunstbibliothek, the divide between the limited edition prints made for sale on the art market and the nevertheless high-quality advertising material produced in large print runs was at times fluid.

The Evolution of Pop Art in 10 Chapters

Broken up into 10 “chapters”, Pop on Paper takes a closer look at some of the individual artists and shared themes of Pop Art. Beginning with the genesis of the movement in England (Eduardo Paolozzi, Richard Hamilton) and artists such as Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg, it also traces parallel European developments and reflections leading up to and after 1970, such as the work of Sigmar Polke, K.P. Brehmer, Ulrike Ottinger, Maria Lassnig, Elaine Sturtevant and Equipo Crónica, while contemporary echoes of the style of Pop Art can be found in works by Antje Dorn and SUSI POP.  

The Exhibition Catalogue

The exhibition will be accompanied by a catalogue from Kerber Verlag, Bielefeld – Berlin: 180 pages, ca. 120 images, with texts by Alexander Dückers, Patricia Kühn, Fabienne Meyer, Christina Thomson and Andreas Schalhorn (editor of the catalogue and curator of the exhibition).

Media partner: Der Tagesspiegel.

Visitor in the Gemäldegalerie
© Staatliche Museen zu Berlin / Fabian Fröhlich

10785 Berlin

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Related Links

Museum and the City: “Pop on Paper im Kulturforum: Eine knallige Ausstellung” on the blog of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

Exhibition catalogue (German only) in the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin webshop