Looking for something to do this summer in Madrid? Well, if you’re going to be in this city at some point, why not check out an art exhibition? Madrid is world famous for its museums, in particular those located in the world-famous Triángulo del Arte, a term coined by the press to refer to all of the museums on or near the Paseo del Prado, in particular the three major ones: the Museo del Prado, the Thyssen-Bornemisza, and the Reina Sofía. This summer the Thyssen Museum is putting on an exhibition that you won’t want to miss. Up through the 14th of September, you can experience ‘Mitos del Pop’, the first Modern Art exhibition in Madrid since 1992, when the Reina Sofía gave us ‘Arte Pop’. The exhibition brings together more than one hundred works of art, ranging from early British efforts to classic American works, as well as European reactions to the movement.

 Roy Lichtenstein

Pop Art in Madrid

The concept of Pop Art originated in the mid-1950’s in Britain and somewhat later in the United States, reaching its zenith in the 1960s. One of the first works ever to be labeled as ‘Pop Art’ was Richard Hamilton’s “Just what is it that makes today’s homes so different, so appealing?”. The 1956 collage by this British artist shows the living room of a house filled with random characters and objects, all of which represent pop culture. This concept would later become the basis for the Pop Art Movement, employing images taken from mass culture, advertising, and even comic strips.

The ‘Mitos del Pop’ exhibition is being held in the Thyssen’s Temporary Exhibition Gallery and houses a wide variety of works under one roof. The layout of the exhibition seeks to eliminate national boundaries and provide a global view of Pop Art; artists of varying nationalities are represented together, the focus being on the similarities of their works, not their origin. In this manner, the exhibition begins with collages, showing Hamilton’s famous work, as well as those of Eduardo Paolozzi and Ray Johnson.

Andy WarholThe next room is where you’ll find comic strips and advertising, the most recognizable painting being Look Mickey (1961) by Roy Lichtenstein, but there are also other representations of Mickey Mouse by Andy Warhol and Equipo Crónica. Room 3 contains the famous painting by Warhol of a Campbell’s Soup can, as well as paintings of other brands, such as Coca-cola and Schlitz Malt Liquor. Moving on, room 4 is where the Hollywood-influenced works are, such as Warhol’s famous Marilyn Monroe painting, as well as representations of other film stars, including Elizabeth Taylor. Room 5 has a collection of Pop Art portraits, among which are those of Marlon Brando and David Hockney. The next room — number 6 — has a mix of styles, including landscapes and interiors. Room number 7 contains works brought together under the term ‘urban eroticism’, the most known painting in the room being Lichtenstein’s Woman in bath (1963). The penultimate room shows paintings related to history, showing images of Mao Tse-tung, JFK, Jackie Kennedy, and Richard Nixon. Lastly, the final room displays a group of paintings which are Pop Art renderings of classics, including Equipo Crónica’s version of the Velásquez painting Las Meninas.


The Thyssen-Bornemisza exhibition

‘Mitos del Pop’ is an excellent showing of Pop Art in Madrid, having borrowed works from The National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., …. If you enjoy artists such as Warhol, Lichtenstein, and their contemporaries, be sure to catch this exhibition before it ends in September – it may just be another twenty years before you have another chance to see such a collection in Spain’s capital.