Wed, 03/26/2014 – Sun, 06/22/2014


Celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the musical “British Invasion,” this exhibition highlighted twenty-three (about one-tenth) 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 was actually a British invention, dating to 1956, five years earlier than American pop. None of these prints–by major figures in British pop art including David Hockney, Peter Phillips, Patrick Caulfield, Eduardo Paolozzi, and Peter Blake (designer of the cover art for the Beatles’ album SgtPepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band)–have been exhibited in at least a decade, and some have not been exhibited ever at the Allentown Art Museum.

Beginning in 1952, a band of British artists in post-war London formed the Independent Group. These artists reacted against the loose technique and serious attitude of Abstract Expressionism and returned to more recognizable forms of representation. These Pop artists believed that the “art” produced by Hollywood, Detroit, and Madison Avenue was as serious as what was being shown in galleries and museums, thus challenging the traditions of the fine-art establishment. In their work they incorporated images created by American pop culture and advertising through collage and mechanical means of reproduction. British Pop is distinctive in its examination of the banal and kitschy aspects of American mass media from afar, whereas the American Pop art movement, which culminated in the early 1960s, is viewed as more of an ironic celebration from within.

Design by Peter Blake (b 1932)

Our friends at the Reading Public Museum are swept up in the British Invasion theme too, with a new exhibition on ICONS OF BRITISH SCULPTURE. As a member of the Allentown Art Museum, you get in free! For more on reciprocal membership agreements with other museums, click here

Photo (above): Henry Moore (British, 1898-1986), Draped Reclining Figure, Knee, c. 1981, 6 x 8 x 5 inches, Private Collection
Featured image: Eduardo Paolozzi (1924–2005), DONALD DUCK MEETS MONDRIAN, 1967, silkscreen, 15 x 10 inches. Allentown Art Museum of the Lehigh Valley. Gift of William Dorman, 1980