Tom Welsman Still Life No. 35 Analysis

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Tom Wesselman, Still Life No. 35, 1963
Erik Bulatov, Glory to the CPSU (Communist Party of the Soviet Union), 1975

Emerging during the economic affluence of the United States post World War II, Pop Art is a movement during the late 1960s that can be characterised by the appropriation of commercial and highly recognisable images, bright colours, and the blurring of boundaries between ‘high’ and ‘low’ art.
Tom Wesselman’s Still Life No. 35 may be seen as an example of Pop Art – the use of bright colours and visible prominence of several brand-names may even deceive viewers into thinking that they are looking at an advertisement. From cigarettes to cola, from breakfast to air travel, Wesselman depicts the post-war boom and luxury of choice
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5 can be seen as a mere advertisement, Erik Bulatov’s Glory to the CPSU can be misinterpreted as a straightforward adulation of the Communist Party. The artist depends heavily on the reader to understand the ironic appropriation of the symbols, whether commercial or Communist (Margaret Tupitsyn). Bulatov for example, utilised “hyperideology”, depicting the ‘agit-prop’ red characters ubiquitous in the USSR as set against a calming, saturated image of a blue-sky. In doing so, Bulatov, liked Pop Artists, elevated the everyday, recognisable image into ‘high’ art. Bulatov hoped that viewers would think more critically about its representational function and deconstruct the myth of state-endorsed ideology. Ultimately, Pop Art and Sots Art artists depended on appropriating the semiotics of what they chose to critique.

Jackson Pollock, Number 1, 1950 (Lavender Mist), 1950
Alison Knowles, Identical Lunch, since 1968

The Fluxus movement, like Pop Art, aimed to blur what was ‘high’ and ‘low’ art. More ambitiously, it also sought also to dismantle the boundaries of art and life. Fluxus artists were concerned about making their art accessible to everyone, and they invoked new ways of thinking about how art could be performed, by inviting viewer participation into their artworks. It emerged in the “end of the period of restoration and conservatism that accompanied a shift to a new politics and a new culture” (Andreas Huyssen, italics

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