Seattle Art Museum: ‘ City Dwellers: Contemporary Art from India’ and ‘Pop Departures’

The Seattle Art Museum is immense.  I decided to narrow my visit down by focusing on exhibits of interest as oppose to overwhelming myself.  It was a good plan.  I settled on the ‘City Dwellers: Contemporary Art from India’ and ‘Pop Departures’.

City Dwellers: Contemporary Art from India

Aug 30 2014 – Feb 16 2015

Seattle Art Museum

Third Floor Galleries

Bollywood movie culture, venerated politicians, religious traditions, and art historical icons all contribute to the myriad of influences in contemporary urban Indian culture. The artists in this exhibition pay tribute to this multitude even as they introduce elements of irony, introspection, and critique.

Through their photography and sculpture, the artists negotiate diverse ideas and influences on contemporary Indian society—Hindu mythology, Bollywood movies, Indian and western art, and icons of everyday life in a global market economy. Many of the works are influenced as much by popular movie culture and the use of digital technology as by the conventions of religious ritual and street processions, traditional theater, and dance.

Come see the colorful, contradictory, and complex India of today through the works of some of the country’s leading artists.


When I was walking through the space to take in the ‘City Dwellers: Contemporary Art from India’ exhibit there was a school class on a learning break.  I was so impressed of  their  interpretation of “India Shining V: Gandhi with iPod”.  Their comments on India as a tech-savvy consumer society was a great assessment.  I saw a bright-red Gandhi, gaudy and grotesque, grinning at his iPod menu. No telling what he’s listening to, but it’s not a tune from the India he led to independence in 1947.

Being of South Asian origin, I felt exuberant to see such beautiful images of India’s people, places and artistry in play.  Cheeky but thoughtful.  “The Reassurance”, from the series Definitive Reincarnate, 2003/2006, Nandini Valli Muthiah, Indian, b. 1976, color photograph, 40 1/4 x 40 x 1 in., Collection of Sanjay Parthasarathy and Malini Balakrishnan was a favourite.  The bombastic colours, cultural and religious nods were respectful and the dance of bridging old world thought into modern Western re-thinking was an important conversation to have within the context of beautiful photographs and statues.

Pop Departures

Oct 9 2014 – Jan 11 2015

Seattle Art Museum

Simonyi Special Exhibition Galleries

In the 1960s, art for the first time embraced the brash world of commercial culture, advertising, and mass media—images of shiny newness, youth, and seduction. Pop art electrified artists, audiences, and critics alike. It changed our understanding of art, and the ripple effects of its seismic shift are still felt today. Pop Departures presents the bold visions of American Pop artists, including the works of icons such as Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Indiana, and Claes Oldenburg.

The exhibition takes us beyond the pioneers of Pop and to the work of subsequent generations of artists for whom Pop art has been an inspiration or a vehicle for critique. See works from the 1980s and ’90s by artists such as Lynn Hershman Leeson, Jeff Koons, Barbara Kruger, and Richard Prince. Continue with work made in the era of digital markets and social media by Margarita Cabrera, Josephine Meckseper, and Ryan Trecartin—contemporary artists who use Pop as a point of departure.

Pop art changed the way we consume media and redefined art as part of our market economy. Pop Departures will blow open your notions of Pop and take you on a journey through the last 50 years of American popular culture.


If you are a fan of Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein ‘Pop Departures’ is for you.   I had many rendezvous’ with Warhol’s ‘Mick Jagger’ on the day I visited.  It is very rare to see these works on view and it was a true explosion of colour, pop art and humour.  There was no stiff upper lip apparent in this exhibit that kept giving and giving.

“The Kiss V”, 1964, Roy Lichtenstein, American, 1923-1997, magna on canvas, 36 × 36 in., Collection Simonyi, © Estate of Roy Lichtenstein was important to pay homage to.  One of the more popular Lichtenstein portraits – checking out the dots up close was fun especially if you are a pop art fan.  I was more interested in the traditional pop art on display and for me proved to be a joyful time.

You need a good two to three hours to walk the length of the Seattle Art Museum and make sure to double back for the works of Chihuly (a small space but well worth the one on one time with) and the decadent Porcelain Room which will have you craving a cup of tea and biscuits.

Keep in mind; in 2015 the Seattle Art Museum is bringing an exhibit on the works and clothing of Yves Saint Lauren to their shores.  It maybe worth a flight out to catch up close.  😉

Seattle Art Museum

1300 First Avenue Seattle, WA 98101

206.654.3100 & TTY 206.654.3137

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