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The Great Graphic Boom – National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design, Oslo

The atomic bomb, movie stars, abstract expressionism. Consumerism and pop culture. Jazz, beat poetry, and soul. TVs and washing machines in every home. Kennedy and King. The Vietnam War and protest movements, hippies and Watergate.

The decades following the Second World War were highly dramatic ones in the United States. But the cultural scene of the era flourished and showed an originality that would reverberate throughout the world, including Norway. The new exhibition at the National Museum focuses on a little-known aspect of this breakthrough: the great interest in printmaking that emerged around 1960.

Vivacious brushstrokes and vibrant fields of colour dominated the abstract expressionism of the New York school. The dire state of affairs in Europe led many artists to emigrate to the United States during the 1930s and 1940s, and New York soon developed a thriving art scene.

Around 1960, many artists began to shift away from the expressionism of the New York school. Collaborations with various workshops and professional printers became important. Pop art made use of the era’s popular culture and consumer goods, while minimalism reduced everything to a system of abstract, repetitive shapes.

Works by twenty-three artists will be on display in four rooms. Barnett Newman’s major Cantos series (1964) and Agnes Martin’s On a Clear Day (1973) are important touchstones, as are Robert Rauschenberg’s use of found visual material and Jasper Johns’s thematization of everyday objects. Other highlights include woodcuts by Helen Frankenthaler and Donald Judd, Roy Lichtenstein’s Brushstroke (1965), and Andy Warhol’s portraits of celebrities and his series of Campbell’s soup cans.

The exhibition is a collaboration with Staatsgalerie Stuttgart.
Relevant research areas: North America, 20th Century

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