Doctor in History of Art and Visual Culture from the Autonomous University of Madrid and degree in Philosophy and Letters from the University of Zaragoza, Lola Duran (Zaragoza, 1965) She is a curator and has organized exhibitions in more than ten countries. The latest, ‘The Pop Art Culture’, currently in Madrid, is divided into four spaces for as many well-known and representative pop art artists: Roy Liechtenstein, Robert Rauschenberg, Andy Warhol and Keith Haring.
Do you happen to love publicity, that when you pop, there’s no stopping?You are right. Pop is a very current movement, it’s very joyful and understandable. It’s a time for a lot of pop.
In music, the word pop is associated with fun, but often short-lived songs. How is it in art?What we’ve seen in art is that it’s a movement from the sixties that’s still going strong. And each time more. Pop is not old-fashioned, it may lack study and depth, but it is still as current as when it was born.
How did a movement based on comics or advertising become massively successful?
Precisely for this reason, due to its ability to draw its images from mass media. Compared to abstract expressionism, it is much more comprehensible. The references come from the real world. Cans of soup, cans of washing powder, go from the supermarket shelf, where they are usually found, to the museum. Every element of everyday life begins to be an element of art. And that’s why it achieves so much circulation.
With soft drinks, cans of soup and cans of washing powder go from the supermarket to the museum
And what about the millions who are paid for a drawing of a can of soup? Do you understand?I understand perfectly. These are contemporary still lifes. No one wonders why a still life by Arellano fetches high prices and these are the still lifes of the 20th century.
You who organize exhibitions, how come you are lent works by Andy Warhol or Keith Haring?Giving all the guarantees of security, conservation. And show that the project for which they are loaned has an entity and that there is a justification.
A curiosity. How are such famous paintings transported? It’s like in the movies, with security, safes and a certain temperature?Yes, there are magnificent companies specializing in such transport, special packaging is made for each of the works. And of course with all the materials that guarantee conservation, temperature, humidity, shockproof materials… From there they are transported in special trucks, always located and, depending on the room, they also travel with security supplement as required by law.
And is Madrid a pop city?Yes, Madrid is a very pop city and in fact in the exhibition itself you can see that Javier Porto, one of the representatives of the Madrid scene, is represented. And Warhol came to Madrid. And he had a relationship with Spanish high society.
We appreciate them and visit them, but how long can it take to organize such an exhibition?
This takes lots of time. First you have to build a speech, then choose the works and then get them. When you finish this part, the normal difficulties are already cropping up, but everything is fine.
And how is this discourse constructed? Are you thinking of any works in particular?No, I mean what I mean. In the exhibition ‘La culture pop art’ I wanted to tell how pop art responds to a change in society. Nace en Europa y su alcance mayor lo toma en EEUU y eso responde a un hecho social: ha terminado la guerra mundial, han salido victoriosos, hay un ambiente de optimismo, se empieza a desarrollar una class media, un desarrollo del capitalismo y de los means of communication. And this new social class demands an art from them. Abstract expressionism is elitist, incomprehensible for them, and pop art is the most widespread, that of the everyday object, for this new public.
Madrid is a very pop city and, in fact, you can see it in the exhibition
But he is aware that some consider Goya and Velázquez to be “more art” than Basquiat or Koons.Yes, but to appreciate contemporary art, you have to know it and immerse yourself in it. Impressionist art appears to us today as one of the greatest marvels. We fully understand the works of El Greco. But it was never understood. Neither did Van Gogh. It took a long time for these artists to reach the general public.
The word commissioner is related to someone of order and control. Is this also the case in the art world?Nope! Good a little. I like the English word better, which is ‘curator’, ie curator, caretaker. Our role can be 50/50 between the two things: guardian… and curator.
He has commissioned exhibitions of Goya and Pablo Serrano, sculpture and painting. On what basis do you decide to get involved in this or that exhibition?To my knowledge and to my taste. I try that when I approach a new subject, it is an interest and at the same time a challenge, to deepen it, with pleasure and, from there, to translate it so that it reaches the general public.
Some of his works have been seen in Argentina, Portugal, China or Jordan. When selecting certain works, do you also take into account the location and the visitors it will receive?Without a doubt. Some themes cannot be displayed in some countries. When a work is going to be presented in a certain country, we always try to show pieces that are closer to the culture of this country so that they are more easily interpreted by this public.
You are also an art critic…Yes, but I do little sport.
How do you get along when you have to read reviews of your samples?
They usually have good reviews, so I’m not complaining (laughs).
Art is fundamentally emotion,
but not all emotions are art
What does Lola Durán consider art?With this question, we could be days. For me, art is an emotion. But not all emotions are art. Art needs a context, an aura. If we go to classical design, it would be balance, truth and beauty. And basically, I almost always come back to this conception.
Four great authors to describe an era
Roy Lichtenstein. The exhibition brings together the 4 greatest representatives of pop art. The first room is devoted to Liechtenstein, very recognizable for transferring comics to canvas, including its speech bubbles and onomatopoeia. In the sample you can see the comics of the 60s in which he was inspired -with motifs of war for boys and love for girls-. Art Deco-inspired posters are also presented.
Robert Rauschenberg. The second room is occupied by this chemist who will later study the arts, which gives his work a great technical complexity: assemblages and collages characterize his very socially engaged works. In the Madrid exhibition you can enjoy a choreography that he himself created and performed as a dancer, as well as three related panels.
Andy Warhol. The famous creator is represented with some of his obsessions: portraits -Marilyn or Kennedy- and his contemporary still lifes -like the can of tomato soup-, but also with his works for cinema and music, on covers for Velvet or Diana Ross, or her political commitment, with pieces on the electric chair, blurred, as if it were a very distant past.
Keith Haring. Known for his motley human figures, he would later add elements of technology that terrify him. After contracting AIDS, he tried to portray the end of family and religion. In this room there is space for some photographs taken by Javier Porto from Madrid during a session for Interview with Grace Jones painted by Haring as the protagonist.