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SuperReal: Pop Art from the AGO Collection

Exhibition dates

January 16, 2016 – ongoing



During the 1960s, Pop artists in America responded to the consumer society that had established itself after World War II. They analyzed the impact on the modern psyche of mass culture and the access everyone seemed to have to a wealth of new products. As painter James Rosenquist said: “I am amazed and excited and fascinated about the way things are thrust at us...things larger than life, the impact of things thrown at us.” To emphasize this, Pop artists painted big pictures, used everyday objects, or sometimes grossly inflated or simply reproduced things in surprising materials. They didn't just document the popular; they confronted it. They laid bare the insatiable materialism, gluttony and excessive visual stimulation of this new world.

On display are three of the AGO's most important works of art: Claes Oldenburg's Floor Burger (1962), Andy Warhol's Elvis I and II (1963–4), and Robert Rauschenberg’s Story (1964). All are gifts of or were purchased with the assistance of the Gallery's legendary Women's Committee in the 1960s.


The British and American Pop artists on display in Gallery 129, the Robert & Cheryl McEwen Gallery, found inspiration in images of women from cinema, print and television advertising, and comics.  Some might view these depictions of women as overly erotic.  Others might argue that Pop artists were questioning a society where people were treated as sexualized objects ready for quick and easy visual consumption.

What do you think?  Are these Pop depictions of women (a) exploitative or (b) critical of the way we look at one another?

Visit the Gallery, look at the works, and share your responses on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram using #AGOasks.

Organized by the Art Gallery of Ontario.

This exhibition is included with general admission.

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