The Kings of Neo Pop

24 janvier 2017

Little brother of pop art, the Neo pop is not a new movement, in a strict way, but rather a reminiscence of its elder. Between works on popular culture, critics of modern society and accessibility, let’s dive into the universe of artists who are, above all, painters of their time.

Pop art 2.0

Popular, ephemeral, disposable, cheap, mass produced, young, spiritual, sexy, full of tricks, enchanting… and which brings a lot of money.” In 1957, Richard Hamilton, one of the founders of the British Pop Art, thus defined this nascent movement. This definition has hardly come a long way when it comes to characterizing the Neo pop movement. Term probably invented by Noi Sawaragi, Japanese art critic, in 1992, Neo Pop or New Pop is a resurgence of Pop art. Although less revolutionary and demanding, neo-artists continue to use the same codes as Pop art. Ready-made, icon figures like Madonna, Michael Jackson, Britney Spears, Mohamed Ali... Neo pop works as great medias of entertainment by producing ephemeral images. Closer to the populace than Pop Art, like the Free Figuration, Neo Pop refutes the idea that Art is superior to others and aims to demonstrate that popular culture, consumer society and Art Are on the same floor and can cohabit in the same image. The worthy heirs of Warhol and Lichtenstein are today called Murakami, Koons or Hirst. Zoom on these kings of Neo pop.

Takashi Murakami, Pop-based

A samurai bun, a small pair of glasses as round as his face finished by a goatee, the face of Takashi Murakami, a thousand times reproduced, is not unknown to lovers of contemporary art. And even less and less of a broad fringe of an audience yet not inclined to appreciate art in general. Born in Itabashi, one of the districts of Tokyo in 1962, this doctor of Nihonga painting, is now a superstar as well known as his works, which was found especially in exhibition in the Large Apartments and Hall of Mirrors of the Palace of Versailles. Leader of Japanese Neo Pop, in his youth of the 70s and 80s, Murakami was into the advent of mass culture. As a child of the Japanese economic miracle, his work is a skillful combination of traditional Japanese religious art and characters from the television, video games, otakus and manga. He gave birth to the artistic style inspired by the kitsch pop aesthetics of the manga: Superflat, which was the name of his exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles in 2001 and boosted him to the front of the artistic scene. Flowers, smileys, monumental sculptures straight out of Japanese manga imagery… Today at the head of a true galaxy, his studio became a commercial company named KaiKai Kiki Co Ldt employing a hundred assistants in Japan and in the United States. Takashi Murakami has become a full-fledged brand, working with Louis Vuitton, Vans, Pharell Williams and Kanye West. At 54, he is currently one of the most expensive artists in the world, his work My Lonesome Cowboy was especially sold more than 15.5 million dollars in 2010. Always looking for the very essence of the painting, Murakami hopes to "live to 70 years, this age where I will begin to paint freely..."

Jeff Koons, mirror of globalization

Born in York, Pennsylvania, in 1955, Jeff Koons is one of those who look eternally young. Always impeccable, clean on him, cordial, punctual, he does not really looks like the idea that one usually makes of artists. Governed by an almost sickly sense of detail, his artistic life would certainly not have had the same success without this singularity. Undoubtedly the most famous living artist, his work nevertheless remains very controversial. In his early days in his small apartment in New York, he created inflatable sculptures with vinyl, plastic and mirrors. Then, in 1980, he placed new vacuum cleaners in a window illuminated with neon lights. Inhabited by a sensation that he describes as "sexual" when working on his sculptures, he realized his first major sale in 1985: One Ball Total Equilibrium Tank, a basketball plunged in a salt water solution for 2700 Dollars. His Art is a hybrid cross between Marcel Duchamp's ready-mades, Oldenburg's immense everyday objects and the inevitable Pop Art by Andy Warhol. From this mixture will born the now mythical sculptures in stainless steel: Inflatable Rabbit (1986) but also and especially the Balloon Dogs (1994). One of these Ballon Dog (Orange) - there are five versions of different colors - was sold in November 2013 for 43 million. In 2007, another sculpture, Hanging Heart, was auctioned for 18 million euros. Working by series, Jeff Koons denounces through his works that seem simplistic, a certain idea of ​​globalization and the society of consumption. Like Murakami, he was exhibited at the Château de Versailles in 2008, and he also finds himself at the head of an army of assistants. Cultivating the kitsch to excess, he nevertheless incarnates for some the devil in contemporary art, between money, sex and media advent. Ignoring the polemics, Jeff Koons prefers to quote the historian of Art, Aloïs Riegl: "The artwork belongs to the one who looks at it".

Damien Hirst, death and money

Walking in the middle of an exhibition devoted to Damien Hirst reminds us, whether we are collectors, buyers or simple enthusiasts, that we are powerless in the face of this terrible reality: death. Obsessed with the subject, the 51-year-old English artist illustrated himself by cutting out dead animals in two and then storing them in large aquariums filled with formalin. Carcasses of sheep, cows, sharks, doves and even a carpet of dead flies... The native of Bristol was also noted for producing the most expensive work ever produced: a human skull, For the Love of God, crimped of 8601 diamonds with a total value of 100 million dollars. And precisely, dollars, it is the topic with Damien Hirst. As for Takashi Murakami and Jeff Koons, the British artist saw his value explode with the appearance of a sort of "Hirst bubble" to which museums and institutions would have participated by not wanting to miss the artist of the future. More controversial than Koons or Murakami, Hirst sees no time in favor of his work. Considered one of the heirs of Pop art, leader of Neo pop, he sees his value of today declines in the face of the reproaches of his increasingly detractors: Damien Hirst became an advertiser of his own works, accused of speculating via intermediaries on the price of his works to increase the value of these. More a businessman than an artist, he is struggling to renew himself but whether he wants it or not, with a sense of aestheticism, vision and great ideas, Damien Hirst remains an artist. One of the most remarkable of his generation...

Fabien Novarino, the tribute to Neo pop

Fabien Novarino was a classical figurative painter in his early days, and has been integrating photography into his works since 2010. From personal or professional photographs that he acquired with an agency, he then designed original graphic works that are claimed of the Neo pop style. Produced from a clever mix of collages, drawings and stencils, Fabien Novarino's paintings are inspired by the icons of cinema, music, modern urbanism and the universe of Comics. Totally actual, his Art is a barely masked tribute to the entertainment company.

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