I recently wrote a pair of reviews centered around Pop Art for two different publications. While the work of William Nelson and Ed Ruscha may be on opposite ends of the Pop Art spectrum, it was interesting for me to consider the changing approaches and priorities of Pop.
The articles are:
B Scene Zine, September 24, 2023. "Future Pop Nostalgia: William Nelson at Cavalier Gallery"
Pop Art, once a revolution in the art world, is being reexamined amidst the nostalgia of past eras. As iconic figures of Pop Art, such as Lichtenstein and Warhol, receive retrospectives, questions arise about Pop Art's contemporary relevance. William Nelson, showcasing at Cavalier Gallery, introduces a new direction by blending the past with futuristic themes, notably his "Killer AI Robot," which traverses iconic moments from New York's history. While some of Nelson's works captivate, others feel incongruous with Pop Art's original intentions. Yet, in pieces like "Coffee Cantata," Nelson captures the essence of Pop Art's playfulness, suggesting a hopeful future for the movement.
Whitehot Magazine, October 2, 2023. "ED RUSCHA / NOW THEN at MoMA."
The MoMA's retrospective of Ed Ruscha offers an immersive exploration of the iconic artist's work, emphasizing his innovative approach to Pop Art. Beginning with "Charles Atlas Landscape," the exhibition showcases Ruscha's mastery in capturing the uniquely American spirit and the commercialism of the country. His early travels, including a hitchhiking journey from Oklahoma to Miami, influenced his artistic sensibility. Throughout the exhibition, works such as "Vicksburg" and "Dublin" reflect Ruscha's focus on memories and revisiting landscapes. The retrospective forces audiences to rethink Pop Art's roots and its ties to Post-War America. Signature pieces like "Standard Station, Ten-Cent Western Being Torn in Half" highlight the intersections of capitalism, religion, and urban sprawl. Another stand-out work, "OOF," demonstrates Ruscha's groundbreaking approach to language and art. Furthermore, installations like "Chocolate Room" challenge traditional art mediums with sensory experiences. Running from September 10, 2023, to January 13, 2024, "ED RUSCHA / NOW THEN" captures Ruscha's profound impact on art, offering a journey through American culture and the evolution of Pop Art.
What you don't get in the overviews are the references to Back to the Future, hitchhiking, and various Eidsvig ridiculousness. Check them out.
If you haven't seen the Ruscha yet, take the trip to MoMA. It was one of the better exhibitions I've seen in a long time.