The Medium is the Message
Pop Art Prints From the Collection of the Israel Museum, Jerusalem
At The Negev Museum of Art

June 11, 2014-September 6, 2014
Location: The Negev Museum of Art, Beer Sheva
Artist: Claes Oldenburg, Jasper Johns, David Hockney, Richard Hamilton, Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Eduardo Paolozi, R.B. Kitaj, Robert Rauschenberg, Larry Rivers, and others.
Curator: Dalia Manor
Media: Prints
The Medium is the Message
Pop Art Prints from the Collection of the Israel Museum, Jerusalem
In the 1960s and 1970s, artistic printmaking enjoyed an unprecedented resurgence, a development which was tightly linked to the work of artists identified with the Pop Art movement in the USA and Britain at the time. Pop art is renowned for its attraction to and extensive use of reproduction in various forms: the mass production and distribution of consumer goods and images; attraction to popular materials like comics, photos of celebrities, and advertisements; a visual language with a mechanical-industrial nature. All these profoundly influenced the development of printmaking as one of the period's most profitable and successful artistic means.
In Western culture, artistic printmaking, produced on paper in numerous copies, emerged during the Renaissance with the advent of the printed book. Historical techniques like woodcuts, etching, and engraving, were joined in the nineteenth century by lithography which was then developed into commercial use in newspapers and posters. The twentieth century saw the introduction of silkscreen printing (screen print). Similarly to etching and engraving, lithography was created by hand on a printing plate, while silkscreen made it possible to print flat and colourful shapes on surfaces without an individual 'signature', collages of existing printed materials, and the use of photography – and it became a popular means for pop artists.
The flowering of the print medium derived from artists' aspiration to disseminate their art widely and allow it to be acquired by many, thus undermining the aura of the unique original. Adopting mundane materials from the worlds of media, consumerism, and entertainment helped them move away from the conventional linkage between art and biographical-personal expression. A re-examination of artistic production and its attitude to other products and images obscured the boundaries between artistic prints and advertising posters, between prints and reproductions. As a result, fundamental questions were raised on the notions of original and originality, on authenticity and status of creative artists and their work. These issues are centrally important today, when the copying and mass districution of works are the essence of the digital world. The simultaneous propagation of images from various sources on the screen –a phenomenon familiar to computer-users –was featured decades ago in Pop art prints.
Drawing on the phrase 'the medium is the message' coined in the 1960s by the renowned medial scholar Marshall McLuhan, the exhibition aims to indicate the crucial impact that prints had in disseminating Pop art among a growing audience; the impact of printing technology developments on their artistic language; and the close affinity between the worlds of industry and consumerism, and the art world, embodied in the print itself.
All the works displayed in the exhibition are part of the collection of the Israel Museum, Jerusalem.