Another pop art: expertise on the east and west coasts of the United States
Presented in conjunction with the Power Institute
In recent years, pop art has been associated with the notion of de-skilling: the effort to eliminate artisanal competence and manual virtuosity from artistic production. This talk will instead argue that pop artists were deeply invested in the acquisition and deployment of expertise. The training of Andy Warhol, James Rosenquist and Ed Ruscha in the techniques and processes of New York’s advertising industry helps explain how these artists intervened effectively in the image culture of the early information age. By contrast, most artists on the US west coast developed quite different types of expertise, often through a close connection with science and materials. From a very different class position than the bourgeois world of advertising, these artists engaged and interrogated the popular through such areas as car and surf culture, pyrotechnics, and barter economics. A focus on these competencies expands the definition of pop to include such artists as Judy Chicago, Billy Al Bengston and Ed Kienholz under the rubric of pop.
Andrew Perchuk is deputy director of the Getty Research Institute. A specialist in modern and contemporary art, Perchuk holds a PhD in art history from Yale University. His publications include The masculine masquerade (1996), Allan Kaprow – art as life (2008), Harry Smith: the avant-garde in the American vernacular (2009), and Pacific standard time: Los Angeles art, 1945-1980 (2011), which received the 2011 award for outstanding exhibition catalogue from the Association of Art Museum Curators (AAMC). He served as co-director of Pacific Standard Time, which comprised more than 60 museum exhibitions on postwar art in Los Angeles, is co-leading a project on Jackson Pollock’s Mural, and is a frequent participant in Our Literal Speed, a series of events in the vicinity of art and history.
Image: Edward Ruscha Gospel 1972 (detail)