Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Pop Life @ Tate Modern

The Tate Modern's Autumn blockbuster show 'Pop Life: Art in a Material World' spans the breadth of Contemporary Art from sixties Warhol to noughties Murakami. For me the exhibition was volume over content, with many of the works having a rather tenuous link to the values of the true 'pop' sensibility. Yes there were Warhols but apart from the less frequently seen 'gem' series, a collection of random drawings and Interview magazine covers curated in a small corridor space seemed like an afterthought.

The first breath of fresh air came with the recreation of Keith Haring's Pop Shop from his original space on New York's Lower East Side. Featuring prints and photographs (including a great one of Haring painting Grace Jones's naked body with his signature squiggles) the room pulsates with life and energy and embodies the spirit of Pop.

I was also intrigued to see works from Jeff Koons' 'Made in Heaven' series, portraying himself and Ilona Staller, his wife at the time, in a range of sexual poses. Despite its controversial content, the craftsmanship of some of the white marble pieces is sublime.

The final room of the exhibition is dedicated to Murakami. After seeing his retrospective at the Brooklyn Museum last year, I had high expectations. A key theme of the room is a new series of works featuring 'Akihabara Majokko Princess', an Anime-style character embodied by a blue-haired Kirsten Dunst. In a promo video she sings 'Turning Japanese' while dancing around the Akihabara district of Tokyo. As an admirer of Miss Dunst's film choices, personal style and un-Hollywood teeth, it is worth the price of entry to see this alone.

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