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British Pop Prints

March 26 – June 22, 2014

Payne Hurd Gallery


Allentown, PA—Timed to coincide with the fiftieth anniversary of the “British Invasion”—when the Beatles first arrived in New York—this exhibition highlights twenty-three of the Museum’s extensive holdings of British Pop prints. Although Pop Art is most commonly associated with Americans such as Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein, it actually was a British invention dating to the 1950s. Included in this exhibition are prints by major figures in British Pop Art, including David Hockney, Eduardo Paolozzi, Peter Phillips, and Patrick Caulfield. None of these prints has been exhibited in at least a decade, and some have never been exhibited before at the Allentown Art Museum.

     When their own economy was still recovering from the Second World War, a group of British artists fascinated with growing American consumerism founded the Independent Group (1952-55). Pop Art fully surfaced in the exhibition This is Tomorrow at the Whitehall Chapel in London in 1956. Later, the same trans-Atlantic youth culture that informed rock and roll also shaped Pop Art. Some British rockers had gone to art school, including John Lennon, Keith Richards, Pete Townsend, and Eric Clapton, while Pop artists like Peter Blake and Richard Hamilton designed album covers for popular bands like the Beatles. Like the music, Pop Art expressed post-war optimism. The bright colors, playful themes, and easily understandable graphics are both striking and innovative.

     Printmaking was a natural medium for Pop artists, as prints can be produced mechanically and as multiples. Moreover, prints were not considered to be “high art” on par with painting and sculpture until Pop Art changed that in the 1960s. Silkscreen, for example, was a commercial medium that the Pop artists adopted. By blurring traditional boundaries of painting, printmaking, and photography, as well as using sources rooted in culture rather than nature, British Pop artists paved the way for postmodernism.

     Curated by Diane P. Fischer, Chief Curator, Allentown Art Museum of the Lehigh Valley


Exhibition Hours: 

Wednesday–Saturday         11 a.m.–4 p.m.

Sunday                                  noon–4 p.m.


BRITISH POP PRINTS–related events:

April 2 (Wednesday)

Noon Gallery Talk 

Museum chief curator Diane Fischer leads a tour of the exhibition British Pop Prints through Payne Hurd Gallery and the Decorative Arts Corridor. Tour and talk last approximately forty-five minutes and are free with Museum admission.


May 18 (Sunday)

Colleen Hill: “French Fashion Goes Pop: The 1960s Style of Françoise Hardy and Sylvie Vartan”
1 p.m.

British Pop Prints illustrates the confluence of popular music and pop visual culture in England during the 1960s. In France at the same time, the yé-yé singers were part of a group of stylish teenagers who had dubbed themselves Les Copains. These young women maintained a specifically French look and were known for their unique mix of couture and ready-to-wear clothing. The yé-yé style was led by Françoise Hardy and Sylvie Vartan—two of the most beautiful and captivating singers of their genre. Although Hardy and Vartan began their careers while still in their teens, both quickly became famous—and their personal styles brought them as much attention as their music. Colleen Hill received a Master of Arts degree in Fashion and Textile Studies from the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in 2006. Shortly after graduation she began to work at the Museum at FIT, where she has curated or co-curated a number of fashion exhibitions. In June 2014 she will open an exhibition entitled Exposed: A History of Lingerie. $5 members, $15 nonmembers. Call 610-432-4333 ext. 110 or visit to reserve.


JUNE 22 (Sunday)

Closing Day of British Pop Prints


Shelley R. Langdale
“From Shower Stalls to Gallery Walls: The History of the Screenprint”

1 p.m.

Shelley R. Langdale, Associate Curator of Prints and Drawings at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, will provide an overview of the development of the screenprint from its commercial origins in the mass-production techniques of the early decades of the 1900s, through its Depression-era struggle for artistic legitimacy, to the coming of age of artistic screenprint production in the Pop Art 1960s and absorption into the multimedia orientation of printmaking today. Shelley Langdale is Vice President of the Print Council of America and Chair of the Program Committee at the Print Center in Philadelphia, and previously served on the board of the Lower East Side Printshop in New York. 



Founded in 1934 by the teacher, painter, and critic Walter Emerson Baum (1884–1956), the Allentown Art Museum of the Lehigh Valley has become the premier institution of visual arts in the region, serving as an important cultural destination as well as a vital element in the economic revitalization of downtown Allentown. The Museum’s recently expanded gallery space showcases a growing collection of art of international importance, allowing visitors to experience a broad spectrum of art representing diverse media, materials, and techniques from an equally diverse range of countries and cultures. In 1974 the Museum received prestigious accreditation from the American Association of Museums and today remains one of just 299 art museums of the 15,000 museums nationwide accorded this status.



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