Origins of Pop

Oedipus [Elvis #1]
by Ray Johnson,1956–7
© The Estate of Ray Johnson at Richard L. Feigen & Co.

The beginnings of Pop Art in Britain can be traced to the activities of the Independent Group. This comprised artists, architects and writers who met between 1952 and 1955 at the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) in London.

At their first meeting, Eduardo Paolozzi projected an array of his collages, which incorporated images from magazines. A selection of his early portrait collages are featured in this section of the exhibition, together with portraits by Richard Hamilton, Nigel Henderson and Peter Blake.

In New York, from the mid-1950s Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg and Ray Johnson each used portrait-related imagery to react against abstract expressionism, then the prevailing style.