Teachers' Notes


Information and Activities for Secondary School Art Teachers

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These notes focus on particular aspects of Pop Portraits and concentrate on a small number of interconnecting themes. They are intended to help students look at the exhibition and enable group discussion and they can be used to assist teaching in the gallery as well as in the artroom. Each image has questions and talking points that can be adapted to meet students’ needs. The suggestions for activities are designed to lead on to further areas of research into portraiture.

The exhibition and notes are particularly relevant to the following groups:
- Students of Art and Design at Key Stage 3 and 4, looking at Units 7A, Self-image, 8A Objects and Viewpoints, 8B Animating Art, 9A Life Events and Unit 10 Generic, Visiting a museum, gallery or site.
- The exhibition is divided into seven sections. These themes relate to each section:
- Introducing A New Image of Art, New ways of making and thinking about art
- Origins of Pop, Colour, Scale, Pattern and Design in Pop Portraits
- Portraits and Style, Pop Portraits; the unique and the multiple, Fantasy, The Celebrity Pop Portrait, Innocence and Experience, Illusion and reality

Each theme is illustrated together with interpretative texts, suggested activities and discussion points. At the end of the notes there is a timeline, instructions for silkscreen printing, useful web-links and a list of further reading. Pop Art Portraits brings together over 50 key works by 28 Pop artists working on both sides of the Atlantic in the 1950s and 1960s. These include major portraits by Andy Warhol, Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns and Roy Lichtenstein alongside those of Peter Blake, Richard Hamilton, David Hockney and Patrick Caulfield.

The exhibition examines these artists’ shared engagement with depicting the famous, and shows how Pop Art shattered the conventions of portraiture, creating a new genre of fantasy portraits using comic books, magazines and other images drawn from popular culture. One of the principal themes of the show is the way that Pop portraits transformed familiar images into works of art of great technical virtuosity, lasting originality, and enduring fascination.