The image of a huge chunk of Swiss cheese is on prominent display in an exhibit titled “Swiss Pop” at the MAMCO Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Geneva. The title of the exhibit is inspired by the name of the painting, by a fictitious American artist who called himself Vern Blosum and who participated in the first Pop manifestations in New York City in the 1950s when the movement, which began in Britain, made its way to New York.
The exhibit leans on the museum’s collection with works that are not explicitly Pop but share certain elements of the movement, as defined by British Pop art pioneer Richard Hamilton, who called it an art form relating to mass culture, industrial production, youth, and glamour (think Andy Warhol’s celebrity portraits and Campbell’s soup can paintings, for instance).
Some of the featured artists use sophisticated techniques for the rehabilitation of common things such as garbage bags or leftovers of a meal while others observe that elements of mass media all appear in a more or less obvious manner. For instance, by making an Andy Warhol sign a lemon-yellow monochrome, artist Mosset brings a touch of glamour to the mutest painting. On the other hand, by covering Claes Oldenburg’s iconic work Bedroom Ensemble with fake fur, Fleury calls upon human impulses of touching and feeling and the aesthetically pleasing charm of the artificial.
But the exhibition also reveals a more somber side such as with Tinguely’s La Vittoria which suggests notions of death. Set in front of the Duomo in Milan, a gigantic golden phallus becomes covered in fireworks and smoke. Behind the upbeat celebrations, this work also depicts self-destruction amidst the excitement.
Participating Artists: Vern Blosum, Sylvie Fleury, Franz Gertsch, Hans Ruedi Giger, Piero Gilardi, Alfred Hofkunst, Friedrich Kuhn, Luigi Lurati, Olivier Mosset & Andy Warhol, Meret Oppenheim, Markus Raetz, Hermann Rorschach, Dieter Roth, Daniel Spoerri, Peter Stämpfli, Jean Tinguely, and Rico Weber.
Swiss Pop will be on view at MAMCO through Sept. 10.