The World Goes Pop


In his attack on the Italian Futurists, Walter Benjamin claimed that fascists aestheticize politics while communists politicize art. What should we make of the intrusion of politics into the pop artworks in this exhibition. Is war being repackaged for commercial consumption, or more charitably, are the artists bringing warfare into the sanitized world of consumer products?

The well known problem is that popular culture cannot critique itself in this way. Any subversion is too easily de-fanged and subverted itself (and here sponsored by the good accountants at Ernst & Young). Why not put a bomb maker in a bathroom or Che on a t-shirt? We know why now, but maybe it wasn't so obvious when these works were made.

The World Goes Pop is at the Tate Modern until the 24th of January 2015.

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