Socialist Worker

Pop Life: Art in a Material World

by Jane Dudley
Issue No. 2172

Rabbit by Jeff Koons

Rabbit by Jeff Koons

This show received a media backlash and a visit from the police last week before it had even opened to the public.

Richard Prince’s Spiritual America was the source of the hysteria and his piece was removed from display.

It is an appropriation, a photograph of a photograph, of Brooke Shields, ten years old, nude and heavily made up that was taken for a Playboy publication.

Prince displayed the image as an installation in 1983, a comment on the kind of society that grooms child stars. It has now been labelled a “magnet for paedophiles” in the press and the red room it was hung in is cordoned off.

The show itself addresses issues of censorship and controversy surrounding Pop art and there is much left to see.

The theme is art and money in the years since Andy Warhol proclaimed, “Good business is the best art.”

Art has always been a commodity but the artists here have embraced this idea in their work and sought fame and fortune.

Sometimes this is exploitative. Bodies become commodities in the work of Jeff Koons, Cosey Fanni Tutti and Andrea Fraser.

But a real highlight is a recreation of Keith Haring’s Pop Shop.

Haring sought to democratise art by selling his works for a few dollars. The recreation includes his fantastic “Stop Aids” and “Free South Africa” designs.

This is a world away from Damien Hirst’s Sotheby’s auctions at which he sold gold plated works for millions.

The exhibition is packed with soundtracks throughout creating a vibrant atmosphere. And, oh yes, there is even a dead horse by Maurizio Cattelan. It’s all here!

Pop Life: Art in a Material World
Tate Modern, London, until January

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Article information

Tue 6 Oct 2009, 18:30 BST
Issue No. 2172
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