POP Goes Taste

‘It’s funny the way things change’ -Andy Warhol

On Tuesday 27 October, CCW Professor Malcolm Quinn will present ‘POP Goes Taste’ at Good Taste/Bad Taste?  at the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA). Taste is how we fit ourselves into the world. Whether in art, architecture, literature, music or home furnishings, one’s choices are social signifiers. In 18th century England, Palladian architecture told others about your wealth, class and status, today your phone or what TV show you watch does the same. Taste is free, yet incredibly prescribed, codified and enforced and we are all pushed and pulled by it. RIBA is hosting an evening exploring taste, manners, trend setters and pace makers. From Ken Russell’s film Pop Goes the Easel (1962) to the recent decision of Playboy magazine to to stop publishing pictures of fully naked women, ‘POP Goes Taste’ explores Pop Art and its shifting cultural motifs, taste boundaries and new frontiers.

Quinn says, ‘Since the eighteenth century, we’ve all been in thrall to a fantasy about taste.  The fantasy is that a sense of taste and discrimination can allow us to live within commercial society while being able trust ourselves first before we trust the brands, products and services that surround us.  This fantasy has been supported by mass media, liberal governments, art schools and universities as long as the narrow gap between the museum and the gift shop, between the editorial and the advertorial, could be sustained.  However, that gap is shrinking and as it shrinks, the form of this fantasy is more clearly revealed.   At RIBA, I’m going to talk about how this fantasy about the power of taste discrimination in the world of commerce was supported and defined by Playboy and Pop Art in the fifties and sixties.  I will end with some comments on art after Pop, to show how a sense of taste can vanish without us even noticing it has gone.’

IMAGE: Town Hall, Borgoricco, Padua, Italy, by Aldo Rossi, completed 1983

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