America inspires new exhibition at Wolverhampton Art Gallery

Art lovers will be able to view the impact of American lifestyles on Britain through works set to go on show at Wolverhampton Art Gallery from May 17 to December 5.

WOLVERHAMPTON COPYRIGHT EXPRESS&STAR TIM THURSFIELD 12/05/21.The Fantasy Pop exhibition at Wolverhampton Art Gallery. Marketing officer Laura Page next to maquette for King Kong, 1971, by Nicholas Monro...
WOLVERHAMPTON COPYRIGHT EXPRESS&STAR TIM THURSFIELD 12/05/21.The Fantasy Pop exhibition at Wolverhampton Art Gallery. Marketing officer Laura Page next to maquette for King Kong, 1971, by Nicholas Monro...

A selection of vibrant artworks from the renowned Pop Art collection at Wolverhampton Art Gallery will examine and celebrate the obsessive nature of popular culture and celebrity, fantasy, portrayed through paintings, works on paper and sculpture, with displays by leading artists such as Peter Blake, Derek Boshier and Eduardo Paolozzi, will be on show at the gallery, which has become known as home to one of the country's largest Pop Art collections.

Taking inspiration from the consumer society and popular culture, Pop Art offered the promise of a new world and the exhibition explores the idea and the impact of the ‘American’ lifestyle in Britain,

As well as reflecting upon the seductive American Dream and the concept of ‘keeping up with the Joneses’, the exhibition also shows how art was affected by the space race of the 1950s and 60s.

Fantasy or Reality? is the title of another exhibition, running from May 17 to September 26, which will show how this has become a hugely popular genre in literature, film, television and also visual art.

The Fantasy Pop exhibition at Wolverhampton Art Gallery. Francis Bacon Head 9, by Clive Barker

As means of escaping everyday life, fantasy can transport people to other worlds inhabited by fantastical creatures, where magic exists, and anything is possible.

Inspired by the family-friendly exhibition Fantasy Kingdom, which will be on show from July 3 to September 5, there will be a selection of artworks and objects from Wolverhampton’s collection which invite people into a world of witches and spirits, knights and dragons, deities and demons.

Much fantasy writing is based on myths, legends and stories from folklore, which are passed down within communities across generations.

Artists have also been inspired by these tales, giving rise to a rich visual culture which is as strong today as ever.

Some of the works in the display are inspired by the legends of King Arthur and his court at Camelot.

They look back nostalgically at an imagined past where gallant knights did battle with fearsome dragons.

The Fantasy Pop exhibition at Wolverhampton Art Gallery..Marilyn on a Coke Bottle, by Clive Barker, 1969

Many folklore tales relate closely to the power of nature, and other works will introduce visitors to forest spirits dwelling in hidden groves and stone circles, thought to have been raised by giants and sea monsters lurking beneath the crashing waves.

They will also learn about deities and spirits, which feature in mythologies from around the world, each thought to govern different aspects of the natural world and able to interfere in the lives of mortals.

No exhibition would be complete without a nod to the pandemic and All About the Fight (2020) by the Sterran Touring Company was created remotely across 20 households during lockdown.

Running from May 17 to July 18, the exhibition shows a re-imagined, innovative dance film, following the cancelling of a live-tour due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

The Fantasy Pop exhibition at Wolverhampton Art Gallery..The Beach Boys, by Peter Blake, 1964

Choreographed by Katy Sterran, associate artist of Arena Theatre Wolverhampton, in collaboration with film designer Matthew Cawrey and the dancers of Sterran Touring Company, the work explores the psychological fights of a young generation.

Staff believe the work has never been so relevant; delving into emotional and psychological rounds of pressure, failure, expectations, weakness and identity.

Sterran holds a national reputation for nurturing professional standards and pushing the boundaries in challenging, cross-artform youth dance works.

The result shows the work of a resilient, ground-breaking company responding to exceptional circumstances.

The Fantasy Pop exhibition at Wolverhampton Art Gallery. .Donuts, Coffee Cups and Comic, by Jan Howarth 1962

Supported by Emergency Response funding from Arts Council England, the work premiered on August 9 last year, and was streamed as part of A Captured Moment Digital Dance & Arts Festival hosted by Flexus Dance Collective.

The film is also available to view on YouTube alongside insights into the creation of the film and interviews with the collaborators.

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