We are pleased to being a series of podcasts of a wonderful art conversation with Rachel of We Are Weezer (https://www.weareweezer.com/)
This time, like all conversations, it starts with Warhol.
Pop Art is not well-represented in the Anderson at the moment. You can look at California Funk as a sub-movement, but straight-up Pop Art? Nah. Wayne Thiebaud is either a Pop Artist, or a realist who simply representing common food objects.
Fuck that. He's a Pop Artist.
The thing about Pop from where I sit is a feeling. It is the feeling that the world of today is a set stage, and the Pop Artists were merely capturing it with all the realism their technique could muster. This is EXACTLY that. Completely. Totally. Thiebaud's Candy Counter is Pop Art, without utilizing what would become known as Pop Art techniques. The painting is realist, closer-related to Thomas Hart Benton and Paul Cadmus than Rauschenberg or Lichtenstein, but it feels like it is capturing a moment that exists, real for a certain location and time and kind of shop, but that is also as artificial as the moment captured is as composed as the painting that Thiebaud has created.
If I have one complaint about what is on view in the Stanford's Anderson Collection, it is the last of Pop Art. Yeah, there are a few pieces, but no Rauschenberg, Warhol, or Lichtenstein, though I know that some of it is on display at SFMoMA. It happens, though I know there are several of each of those folks in the collection. The piece on the floor as I visited that most was a Donald Sultan work depicting a streetlight.
Why is it Pop Art? I mean, wasn't Pop mostly a 1960s thing and this is from the 80s?
Yeah, true, but art movements don't so much as have edges as they do areas as fuzzy as the boundries of Rothko squares. Sultan chose a simple recogniseable image and gave it to us against a simple black background. There is nothing about the subject that would give us any idea as to the importance of it in the world. It's a street light, that's all. Like Warhol's soup cans or Lichtenstein's comic book images, it's not important what the subject is; it is important that it is being presented on a wall in a museum.
It is a lovely piece, and the way it is presented in the space is what made it for me. It is on the end of a short wall. When you are facing it, you're looking down what I think of as the left-side hall. It is as if it is illuminating the way, marking a point in the trip where you can stand and know you're under light, and sometimes when it comes to contemporary art, that's a blessing.
One of my favorite things about MoMA in New York is the fact that they get it; sometimes artists get lost. Marisol, the nom du arte of Marisol Escobar, was a sculptor who passed away in 2016. Her works are often called 'folky' and it certainly fits with many of her pieces, but the Pop Art sculptures she delivers are pretty damned impressive, especially when she played hard with titling. My Favorite piece of hers, and one of my favorite under-appreciated MoMA works, is Portrain of Sidney Janis Selling Portrait of Sidney Janis by Marisol, by Marisol. That titles, practically a Christopher Williams' title, is especially damning. Sidney Janis, famed art dealer. What we're not told in the title, or even by the positioning, is which is which. Is the cross-armed gentleman in the tux the life dealer selling the sporty portrait in wood as the image of himself to the world. Is the Captain Morgan-leaning version reality and the staid, confident one the portrait for sale? It's not answered, but the idea that this is a piece about representation, about how art figures present themselves to the world and the reality, about the intersection of an artist's work and the dealer and the subject of that work, all of that comes together in this marvelous piece.
Christopher J Garcia - Curator, Fan Writer, Podcaster, and a guy who just loves art.