Ludwig Goes Pop!

Art Talk with Karla Schlaepfer
November 6, 2014, 10am

Whether you are an art enthusiast or just an occasional museum goer you must attend one of Karla’s Art talks, they are insightful, inspiring and fun!

Karla carefully chooses her theme and art pieces to reflect the current exhibit. She engages the group in thought provoking discussion in which you are enlightened on the artist, their work and interpretation, but most importantly—your own interpretation.

This month’s Art Talk was at Museum Ludwig and appropriately named, “Ludwig goes Pop.” This exhibition houses one of the most important Pop Art collections in the world featuring Peter and Irene Ludwig’s private collection which was purchased and brought to Germany from America during the 1960’s. Considering Pop Art was quite controversial at the time, bringing it to Germany and the rest of Europe was a significant move for this visionary business couple.

Many people are familiar with Pop artist Andy Warhol and the stir that he created with a simple can of Campbell’s soup and the iconic face of Marilyn Monroe. But why? What does it mean?

Pop Art is an art form developed primarily in America during the late 1950’s and 1960’s. It is a reflection of what was important and happening in America and ‘to’ Americans during the era of Kennedy, space exploration and TV dinners.

Approximately 91% of American households had a television set at the beginning of the 1960s. For the first time, news, famous personalities, and advertising beamed directly into their homes…every night! So many changes and influences – The Vietnam War, rock music, Women’s liberation movement, sexual revolution, Celebrity obsession, and more. These cultural aspects influenced the attitudes of the growing middle class, impelled mass consumerism and the desire for the American Dream!

Pop Art picked up and capitalized on this new era of mass consumerism and images. Artists used their works to question what was happening around them Were these changes good or creating a modern society of depersonalized robots?

This is one reason why we see everyday items from the life of the American consumer as part of the content in Pop Art. Campbells Soup, Coca Cola, Celebrity icons, Barbie girls, news and political figures all play prominent roles in much of the art. The images are simple and are reproduced with the same printing techniques that were used in the commercial printing industry.

Here an example: Andy Warhol uses a picture of a celebrity like Marilyn Monroe or Elvis taken from a magazine or newspaper and prints the image using silk screen. Again and again the same image. Does this repetition strengthen the image and create importance? Actually, Warhol’s idea of repeating a subject was to depersonalize the image and empty it of emotion. Raising the question—is this a person we really admire or just another commodity for our use?

Similar messages came from many Pop Artists of the time and as this controversial phenomena continued it became more accepted as a form of art.

A famous quote by Andy Warhol, “Art Should be popular and for Everyone”.

And that includes YOU!

Increase your exposure to Art and come to the next Art Talk with Karla. I guarantee you will learn something new, and you won’t be disappointed.

Annie Wishnousky