International Lens: Pop Goes the Easel

When: Mon., Feb. 4 2013

An early BBC project by the late Ken Russell, before the psycho-bio excesses of his The Music Lovers and Lisztomania and the stylistic frenzy of Tommy, this 1962 mini-documentary examines four young London artists obsessed with mass media and pop culture at a time when such artistic obsessions were still cutting-edge. Peter Blake, a painter and collage artist, transforms wooden doors into shrines to stars like Brigitte Bardot; Pauline Boty’s collages put Britain’s Victorian past in cheekily incongruous contexts. Fans of pop artists such as Lichtenstein and Warhol will be impressed. The film is impeccably stylish, lingering on its four photogenic protagonists as they languidly smoke, browse comic-book racks, and discuss the cultural significance of Corn Flakes. And its dream sequences and pop music montages create their own sort of collage. Easel is a fascinating time capsule, as well an indication of how little things have changed in 40 years — these artists’ allusive, celebrity-obsessed aesthetic is as relevant now as ever. Free.

Emily Hines

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