You don’t have to venture far from a BYU classroom to interact with world-class art. Many of the exhibits currently on display at the Museum of Art play on interactions between different cultures and people. The MOA’s newest exhibit, entitled “Think Flat,” combines the ideas of Andy Warhol, pioneer of American pop art, and Takashi Murakami, contemporary Japanese artist. Though separated by more than half a century, Warhol and Murakami’s art deals with many overlapping social and cultural issues. The term superflat, coined by Murakami, helps describe the blending of low and high art that Warhol strove for when he began the Pop Art movement. In the “Think Flat” exhibit, curators at the BYU Museum of Art succeed in blending the lines between American Pop Art of the 1960s and the current merging of art and commerce in Japan and around the world.
Upon entering the hallway lined with silver space blankets that leads to the main exhibit, visitors are encouraged to “Think Flat,” or to re-examine our perceptions about the hierarchy that humans assign to cultures and the art that people within a culture produce. With a little background information about Andy Warhol and Takashi Murakami, museumgoers are prepared to find similarities between the two artists that go far deeper than their vibrant usage of color. Because both Warhol and Murakami sought to bring art to the masses in a more interactive form, this exhibit follows the same mantra. One of the unique features that helps set the tone for the exhibit is a display of record album covers with artwork done by Warhol and Murakami, followed by an iPad with a playlist of songs from the represented albums. Here, museumgoers can pause to listen to carefully curated and upbeat music that sets the tone for the rest of the exhibit. Visitors can also interact with the hands-on silver Mylar balloon display that was created by Warhol in 1966. Many of the paintings in the exhibit are series of the same work in different color schemes. Seeing these works in their full size, side-by-side, highlights both of the artists’ conscious efforts to evoke feelings through color. The choices in artwork that are currently on display with this exhibit successfully portray both Warhol and Murakami’s efforts to reconcile fantasy with reality, art with consumer products, and human relationships with technology.
The MOA’s “Think Flat” is perhaps one of the museum’s most accessible and culturally relevant exhibits in recent years. The exhibit’s efforts to tie together past and present helps to acknowledge the challenges inherent to popular culture while allowing visitors of all ages to relate to an art genre that has been continually misunderstood over the years. The exhibit will be on display on the lower level of the BYU Museum of Art until February 18, 2013.