Museum Ludwig

Ludwig Goes Pop

02 Oct 2014 - 11 Jan 2015

Mel Ramos
Hippopotamus, 1967
Oil on Canvas
180 x 247 cm
Ludwig Forum für Internationale Kunst, Aachen
Foto: Ludwig Forum für Internationale Kunst, Aachen / Anne Gold
2 Oc­to­ber 2014 – 11 Jan­uary 2015

Cu­ra­tors: Stephan Died­erich and Luise Pilz

“Pop­u­lar, mass pro­duced, ex­pend­able, cheap, wit­ty, sexy, play­ful, con­spic­u­ous, se­duc­tive”-ac­cord­ing to Richard Hamil­ton th­ese are the char­ac­teris­tics that make some­thing in­ter­est­ing and that he al­so de­mand­ed of his own artis­tic work. What the Bri­tish artist for­mu­lat­ed in 1957as a new stan­dard was con­sid­ered scan­dalous at the time. A re­jec­tion of the pre­vail­ing art and its sublime val­ues orig­i­nal­i­ty, au­then­tic­i­ty, and “depth”. Pop Art was a lib­er­a­tion for some-and a trivial af­front for others.

The ex­hi­bi­tion LUD­WIG GOES POP of­fers an op­por­tu­ni­ty to ex­plore this pheno­menon and to com­pre­hend Pop Art as an ex­pres­sion of a mod­ern at­ti­tude to­ward life. In the 1960s the “ev­ery­day” had ar­rived—it had made its way in­to art: in all man­n­er of play, from hu­mor­ous­ly iron­ic to bit­ing and crit­i­cal, artists ex­plored the Zeit­geist in their art, in­te­grat­ed frag­ments and quotes from the world of con­sumerism and ad­ver­tis­ing, comics, sci­ence, tech­nol­o­gy, erot­ic, and mass me­dia.

Thanks to Peter and Irene Lud­wig, the Mu­se­um Lud­wig in Cologne holds one of the in­ter­na­tio­n­al­ly most sig­ni­f­i­cant col­lec­tions of Amer­i­can as well as Bri­tish Pop Art. In ad­di­tion to the Cologne hold­ings, other parts of this col­lec­tion are pre­served at the mumok in Vien­na, the Lud­wig Fo­rum in Aachen, and the Kun­st­mu­se­um Basel, as well as at the Lud­wig mu­se­ums in Bu­dapest, Koblenz, St. Peters­burg, and Bei­jing.

When Peter Lud­wig first en­coun­tered a Pop Art sculp­ture by Ge­orge Se­gal at Mo­MA in the mid- 1960s, the col­lec­tor, who to­gether with his wife had up to then col­lect­ed chie­f­ly an­tique and me­die­val art, was shocked. Short­ly there­after, how­ev­er, both be­came en­thu­si­as­tic col­lec­tors of th­ese then-cur­rent works. Tom Wes­sel­man’s Land­s­cape No. 4, fea­tur­ing a Ford driv­ing through a coun­try road in the moun­tains, was among the first purchas­es; soon fol­lowed key works by Roy Licht­en­stein, James Rosen­quist, Robert Rauschen­berg, and Jasper Johns. Th­ese artists be­longed to the same gen­er­a­tion as the Lud­wigs; they rep­re­sent­ed mod­ern life, and the cou­ple visit­ed many of them di­rect­ly in their stu­dios.

Many works came to Lud­wig from the renowned Scull and Kraushaar col­lec­tions, a few de­rived from the hold­ings of the Darm­s­tadt Wel­la man­u­fac­tur­er Karl Ströher, who had bought New York in­su­r­ance sales­man Leon Kraushar’s pop col­lec­tion. In 1968, fol­low­ing doc­u­men­ta 4, the Lud­wigs bought works di­rect­ly from the ex­hi­bi­tion, in­clud­ing M-May­be—A Girl’s Pic­ture by Roy Licht­en­stein, Claes Ol­d­en­burg’s Soft Wash­s­tand, Rauschen­berg’s Wall Street, Ge­orge Se­gal’s Res­tau­rant Win­dow I, and Richard Lind­n­er’s Leo­pard Lil­ly. The fol­low­ing year the Lud­wigs pre­sent­ed their col­lec­tion for the first time in Cologne, at the then Wall­raf-Richartz Mu­se­um. The me­dia and public re­spond­ed en­thu­si­as­ti­cal­ly to the ex­hi­bi­tion, and it at­tract­ed around 200,000 vis­i­tors. Conse­quent­ly Pop Art be­came the Mu­se­um Lud­wig’s sig­na­ture tune.

The ex­hi­bi­tion will sub­se­quent­ly be shown at the mumok Mu­se­um mod­ern­er Kunst Stif­tung Lud­wig Wien in Vien­na. A com­pre­hen­sive ca­t­a­logue is be­ing pub­lished at Ver­lag der Buch­hand­lung Walther König in con­junc­tion with the show.

Tags: C.T. Jasper, Jasper Johns