Pop! From the Westport Public Art Collections (WestPAC)

The Westport Public Art Collections grew rapidly during the 1960's, just as the American Pop Art movement emerged in New York City and flourished throughout the country. In 1964, Burt Chernow — an educator and art historian — founded the Westport Schools Permanent Art Collection (now under WestPAC's umbrella), with the vision that original art be a daily part of the educational environment of every student.

Burt Chernow at Greens Farms School in 1964; photo from the Bridgeport Post, July 10 1966

Through gifts by artists and collectors, WestPAC holds significant works by artists associated with the Pop movement, including Tom Wesselmann, Jim Dine, George Segal, Robert Indiana, and prints after Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein. This virtual exhibition introduces you to some of these works!

Cover photo (above): Jim Dine, poetry by Walasse Ting, Untitled (from One Cent Life Portfolio) (1964), lithograph

After Andy Warhol, Black Bean, from Campbell’s Soup I, (1968), silkscreen, posthumously published by Sunday B. Morning

Andy Warhol (1928-1987), perhaps the artist most closely associated with the Pop art movement, began his career as a successful commercial illustrator. He originally painted his Campbell’s soup can series in 1962, noting that he was inspired by the soup that he ate every day for lunch.

What do you like to eat every day? Draw a picture of it!

For more Warhol Pop Art activities, visit the Tate Kids site: https://www.tate.org.uk/kids/make/paint-draw/make-pop-art-warhol

Using the silkscreen process in his workshop, called The Factory, Warhol elevated an ordinary object to the status of an icon. The later Sunday B. Morning prints use the same process and photo negatives as Warhol’s original 1968 soup can silkscreens.

The Pop Art movement questioned and rebelled against traditional definitions of “high art,” drawing on popular imagery for its subject matter, and assimilating the styles and techniques of commercial mass-media.

Nicholas Krushenick, Untitled, (c. mid 1960s-early 1970s) silkscreen

Nicholas Krushenick (1929-1999) developed his signature "abstract pop" style working in New York in the 1960's, eschewing the representational style of many of his Pop contemporaries. He painted large, abstract canvases with bold colors dynamically outlined with black lines that recall cartoon graphics, but were also influenced by the cutouts of Matisse.

After Roy Lichtenstein, Whaam! (1967) Offset lithograph, after the painting by the same name at the Tate; published by the Tate Gallery and printed by Latrec, Ltd.
Henri Matisse, The Thousand and One Nights (1950's), pochoir print
Alex Katz, Olympic Swimmer (1976) silkscreen

Anticipating and influencing the style of Pop artists, Alex Katz (b. 1927) established his career in New York in the 1950’s, turning to figurative paintings and portraits when most of his peers were working in abstraction. His use of broad areas of flat color and monochrome backgrounds in monumental-scale paintings took inspiration from commercial art and billboards.

George Segal, Girl in Chair (1968), lithograph

George Segal (1924-2000) is best known for his life-size white cast plaster figures, arranged in poses and tableaus of everyday life. He has been commissioned to produce many public monuments. Although associated with the Pop movement, his work relies more on personal experience and human values than other Pop artists. This print is considered a study for a wall-hanging box sculpture Segal made in 1970.

Jim Dine, Philadelphia Heart (1984) Etching, drypoint, aquatint

Jim Dine (b. 1935) does not consider himself a Pop artist. Although he worked alongside Andy Warhol and Claes Oldenburg in the 1960’s heyday of Pop, his works lack his peers’ ironic commentary on consumer culture. Dine’s hearts — one of his most frequently used motifs — serve as vehicles for exploring texture and form, and for introspection. This limited edition print was commissioned by the Friends of the Philadelphia Museum of Art

Use hearts as a motif to make your own artwork!

Tom Wesselmann, Still Life #53 (1965) gripflex paint on molded uvex plastic

Along with Warhol, Tom Wesselmann (1931-2004) remains one of the artists most closely associated with the Pop art movement, even if he personally disliked the label. He once wrote, “The prime mission of my art...is to make figurative art as exciting as abstract art.” Wesselmann began making large molded plastic still-life compositions in the early 1960's, turning everyday objects like a radio and an apple into larger-than-life icons. (See another still life composition by Wesselman in the One Cent Life Portfolio below.)

This clipping from the Westport News in 1976 shows Mollie Donovan and Eve Potts with the Wesselmann Still Life #53
Lithographs from the One Cent Life Portfolio (1964)

The "One Cent Life Portfolio" of 1964 is a landmark collaborative publication that features poetry by Chinese-born poet and painter Walasse Ting (1929-2010) and original lithographs by major American and European artists, spanning expressionism and pop art. Published in a limited edition of 2000, it is now a rare portfolio housed in major public institutions and collections. WestPAC recently received a donation of 42 original lithographs from "One Cent Life", along with accompanying pages of Ting’s creative and dynamic verse.

Machteld Appel, dust jacket for One Cent Life Portfolio, (1964)
Jim Dine, poetry by Walasse Ting, Untitled (from One Cent Life Portfolio) (1964), lithograph



green sky drop green rain; i open green umbrella under green water; i wait a green eyed girl; she not come; i don't know

poem by Walasse Ting

Tom Wesselmann, Still Life (from One Cent Life Portfolio) (1964), lithograph
Robert Indiana; poetry by Walasse Ting, Four Winds (from One Cent Life Portfolio) (1964), lithograph


poem by Walasse Ting

Sam Francis, poetry by Walasse Ting, Pink Venus Kiki (from One Cent Life Portfolio) (1964), lithograph

Here are some ways WestPAC's Pop art has been used in the Westport Public Schools art curriculum and in PTA ArtSmart projects, fulfilling Burt Chernow's original mission.

6th grade art students at BMS respond to the Wesselmann still life on view in their building (photos courtesy of Cecily Anderson)
Pop art installation in the WestPAC Learning Gallery at Greens Farms Elementary School
Warhol-inspired prints displayed at Long Lots Elementary School Museum Night
Long Lots Elementary School students with their soup can ArtSmart projects

Thank you for exploring with us!

To learn more about the Westport Public Art Collections (WestPAC) and to Search the collections visit westportarts.org

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Westport Public Art Collections (WestPAC)