When the uniquely American Pop and Minimalist schools first surfaced in the early 1960s, critics argued over whether they would endure. Not everyone agreed they were even art. Now this well-conceived 60-work traveling exhibit, mounted by the Milwaukee Art Center's associate director, I. Michael Danoff, shows that both art and artists have survived. Each movement is represented by three leading practitioners. The Pop half includes Andy Warhol, whose Campbell Soup can was the school's trademark (it's among his works here); Roy Lichtenstein, whose glorification of the comic book panel made benday dots a factor in art; and Jim Dine, a latter-day Dadaist who insists he isn't a Pop artist, to no avail.
While Pop has concentrated on depicting people or objects as a comment on everyday commercial images, the Minimalists' free-form works have more often used high-tech materials of U.S. industry—plastic, metal, glass, plywood. Typical are the Minimalists here: Frank Stella, whose black-and-white pin-striped paintings were a landmark, Donald Judd and Robert Morris. Juxtaposing their work with Pop makes a good case for kinship, perhaps as varied reactions against the 1950s' Abstract Expressionism.
The show is full of intriguing pieces, such as Lichtenstein's oil Black Flowers, Stella's Honduras Lottery Co. and Morris' nine-inch plywood cube that plays the sound of its own creation (a recording of sawing and hammering). Overall, the exhibit is accessible to casual visitors but substantive enough for the serious student. It is in Milwaukee through December 2, then opens at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond January 15. Next it moves to Louisville and New Orleans.