The British Are Coming

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Plattsburgh State Art Museum
State University of New York College at Plattsburgh


Eduardo Paolozzi, Llalla Palooza, 1970 (detail)
from the suite of prints General Dynamics F.U.N. Ideals of masculine and feminine beauty are framed with brand name candy bars. Who is that guy anyway? Photo: ARS
Click thumbnail for larger image.

Thumbnail Image, Eduardo Paolozzi, Llalla Palooza
    While the lectures that took place at meetings of the Independent Group at the ICA were viewed by some RCA students, like Joe Tilson, as boring and the purview of an older and somewhat exclusive club, the ideas that were at the core of that group’s philosophy were published in ARKs 19 and 20, (Spring and Summer 1957). Articles in ARK by Lawrence Alloway, a scholar of art and architecture reached a younger generation of artists after the IG had stopped having formal meetings in 1955. The articles expressed his interest in anti-hierarchical cultural attitudes that embraced with equal enthusiasm Hollywood science fiction B-movies and Continental avant-garde painting. He endorsed the radical concept of an analysis of the general field of visual communications and a charting of the similarities between the various forms it took, from movies, television, advertising and fine art. This blurring of the boundaries between high and low, creates the opportunity for making art with a Pop sensibility and opens the way for appropriation and personal identity as subject matter. This marks the beginnings of a postmodern, anything goes approach to art making.
    The 1962 film Pop Goes the Easel by Ken Russell helped to create celebrity status among the artists of the RCA. Newspaper Sunday supplements and magazines added to the mix. Art schools in Britain by the 60s had become breeding grounds for not just visual art and fashion but for music as well. Some of the rock musicians who went to school to become artists but became musicians were, Pete Townshend of the Who, Eric Clapton of the Yardbirds, Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones, David Bowie of the Spiders from Mars, and fashion designers such as Mary Quant, became superstars in the same sense that pop music stars attained celebrity status. Many graduates of the RCA’s fashion design program became integral with the pop culture scene. The “Swinging London” of the 1960’s added to the climate of experimentation and became both the inspiration and the subject for much of the work. This total integration of art music and film paved the way for Malcolm McLaren in the 80s to declare his fashion boutique and his management and promotion of the Sex Pistols to all be art.
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(ARS), Permission for the reproduction of artwork courtesy of Artists Rights Society © 2006 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / DACS, London.
(PSAM), Artwork from the permanent collection of Plattsburgh State Art Museum.
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