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The Birth of British Pop Art Exhibition

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by Bastion Harrison (subscribe)
Freelance writer and poet from London; if you would like to read my poetry, please check out my book, 'Poems on the Page', available from
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The Man Who Started it All

When I think of Pop Art the first images that pop into my head are cans of soup, comic books, posters featuring beautiful women, eye-scrammbling dots, and objects that look like a child has got their paint-by-numbers wrong.

Out of this odd combination of seemingly unrelated things, how then do we define Pop Art? Here are a few things I consider Pop Art to be:

1. Promotional - Pop Art often takes on the guise of an advertisement, such as Campbell's Canned Soup by Andy Warhol.

2. Rebellious - It works outside what is traditional art.

3. Youthful - Pop Art was led by youth groups wanting change, and appeals a lot to young people.

4. Current - It features issues and images that are contemporary during the time it was made.

5. American - The Pop Art movement began in 1950s America with artists such as Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein.

But Pop Art did go beyond America; there are numerous British Pop Arts, such as Richard Hamilton, Allen Jones, and Peter Blake. The person who started it all, however, was a Scotsman called Eduardo Paolozzi.

Before Paolozzi, many British Pop Artists actually avoided the term all together because they did not want to be associated with the American Equivalent.

Not only was Eduardo Paolozzi's I Was a Rich Man's Plaything (1942) the first artwork to feature the word 'pop', but he was also the founder of the Independent Group in 1952. IG was a gathering of artists who challenged traditional art and discussed current cultural themes such as advertising, news, movies, technology, etc. The group is considered to have formed the birth of British Pop Art, with Paolozzi's I Was a Rich Man's Plaything a highlight of their first exhibition, Bunk!

Now a free exhibition at the A&D Gallery in Marylebone pays tribute to Eduardo Paolozzi and his contemporaries until the 5th of April. On display, you will be able to see Paolozzi's collages, sculptures, and prints of iconic works such as his mosaic at Tottenham Court Road Tube Station. There will also be original work by Richard Hamilton, which will be showcased for the first time.
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Why? Fun for art lovers
When: Until 5th April
Phone: 020 7486 0534
Where: A&D Gallery
Cost: Free
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