Christie’s, in association with Waddington Custot Galleries, have just opened When Britain Went Pop!, an exhibition exploring the early revolutionary years of the British Pop Art movement.
Launched at Christie’s new gallery space in Mayfair, this is the first comprehensive exhibition of British Pop Art to be held in London.
“The Brits started this whole movement,” pointed out Lock Kresler, an American who has helped curate the London exhibition, which has more than 140 works by artists including Hamilton, Eduardo Paolozzi, David Hockney, Allen Jones and Peter Blake.
A key feature of the exhibition is a collaboration with the artists of the British Pop Art movement and their families, and private collectors who are lending works of British Pop Art from their personal collections.
This exhibition seeks to bring a fresh engagement with an influential movement long celebrated by collectors and museums alike, but many of whose artists have been overlooked in recent years.
The exhibition spans British Pop Art, from the 1940s collages of Eduardo Paolozzi to its full maturity in the late 1960s, building on the pioneering work of the ‘Independent Group’ of artists, who began to explore popular culture from the early 1950s.
Pop art is dominated by American artists such as Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein but the exhibition shows that Paolozzi and Hamilton were there first; it also shows there was a continuing British pop art vibrancy in the 50s and 60s that is often overlooked.
Visitors will see an early work by Hockney that has been in the same family’s collection since 1960, when it was bought for £12 – the tag is still on the back – as well as the Hamilton work Swingeing London, which shows Mick Jagger and the art dealer Robert Fraser handcuffed in the back of a police van during their 1967 drugs trial.
When Britain Went Pop! British Pop Art: The Early Years is at Christie’s Mayfair, 9 October-23 November