Masterpiece 2022: Around Pop: British Pop Art and its Legacy

South Grounds, The Royal Hospital Chelsea, London, SW3 4LW, 29 June - 6 July 2022

We are pleased to present a specially curated exhibition which addresses British Pop Art and its Legacy.


The presentation begins with three of the founding fathers of British Pop Art: Eduardo Paolozzi, Nigel Henderson and Peter Blake. The pioneering works of these artists, made in the 1950s, provided the foundation for British Pop Art of the 1960s.


A monumental watercolour of a sculptural head by Eduardo Paolozzi shows the importance of his time in Paris in the late 1940s. Whilst there he roamed the fairgrounds and flea markets, consuming eclectic sources from tribal art to American magazines. This remarkable ink and watercolour is one of his largest early pictures.


An exceptional, and incredibly rare, double-sided ‘screen’ by Nigel Henderson uses photographic sources from antiquity to contemporary magazines to address men’s attitudes to women throughout history. Completed around 1970s, it uses imagery that Henderson began to incorporate into his pieces at the end of the 1940s.


Another major work, and one of Peter Blake’s largest ever installations, Shrine to Marilyn Monroe, in a Texas Diner, shows his admiration for American culture and above all the iconic presence of Marilyn Monroe. Reprising a subject that appears throughout Blake’s long career, it combines his favoured elements: magazine imagery, a door filled with ephemera and references to American popular culture.


Kitaj’s study for the enormous tapestry in the British Library, If Not, Not, also shows the legacy of experimental techniques and a collage-based iconography.


Other works suggest the impact of a new generation of British Pop Artists on established artists: new contemporaries whose careers exploded from the day they left the Royal College of Art in 1962.


Ivon Hitchens’ Fountain of Acis, from 1964, is one of the largest and most ambitious paintings he ever produced. It shows that he raised his game to produce one of his greatest work in the face of the challenges of American Abstract Expressionism and British Pop Art.


Meanwhile, Back to Broadmoor (1962) by Leon Kossoff, made that year, is one of only two work that he ever made based on contemporary newspaper imagery / the recapturing of two prisoners and their return to the high security institution, Broadmoor.


Finally, two photographs by Bill Brandt show key figures in British art: Francis Bacon and David Hockney.  The portrait of Bacon is the only known print of this work while the portrait of Hockney is one of Brandt’s greatest late portraits.