The First Pop Age

Painting and Subjectivity in the Art of Hamilton, Lichtenstein, Warhol, Richter, and Ruscha

written by Hal Foster

Princeton University Press | ISBN 9780691151380

Hardback – 352 pages


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This book provides an important new interpretation of Pop art by examining five artists who, more deeply than any others, capture the new conditions of painting and subjectivity in the Pop age. In this account, illustrated in color throughout, Hal Foster explores the work of the Americans Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, and Ed Ruscha, the Englishman Richard Hamilton, and the German Gerhard Richter, revealing how these artists reflect on the profound changes in image and personhood that occur with pop culture.

Foster shows the different ways that these artists probe the possibilities of painterly tradition and mass culture alike. We see how Pop art folds painting and photography together, combining the effects of immediacy and mediation; how Pop evokes traditional forms even as it foregrounds contemporary contents; how the art strikes an ambiguous attitude toward both high and low cultures, neither critical nor complicit; and finally, how this ambiguity suggests a heightened confusion between public and private, between images and people.

As The First Pop Age looks back at the early days of Pop art, it also raises many important questions about art in our own day, from the continued capacity of painting to reflect on our technological world to whether we have moved beyond the Pop age or still live in its image world.



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