One thing that struck me about the Walker Art Center’s huge survey of global and historical pop art, ‘International Pop’, and Tate Modern’s identically-themed show, ‘The World Goes Pop’, which opened within months of each other last year, was how this coincidence of curating was itself such an old-fashioned pop moment. You could imagine some day-glo-coloured frenzy of media excitement in 1965 – the kind of event styled by Mary Quant and theorized by Marshall McLuhan – as both museums announced a groovy new happening, an experiment in simultaneous curating. This experiment would have allowed visitors in Minneapolis to see bright, figurative paintings by Evelyne Axell and Keichi Tanaami’s zany, explosive animations at almost the same moment as their counterparts in London; it would have given them a sense of how the Vietnam War, Coca-Cola, The Beatles and the bomb were changing the world for all of us, right here and right now. Regional aesthetic differences would have collapsed into a shared visual language of bold lines and eye-popping colours.
First published in Issue 176