Art: Wallowing in The Mass Media Sea

Brash and accessible, the Pop style revolutionized the art world, for better or worse -- but what was its lasting value? A big London show suggests some answers.

How you feel about Pop art depends, to some extent, on how old you are. Nobody who was born around 1940 and came of age as a "consumer of images" in the 1960s is likely to react to the big Pop art survey now at the Royal Academy of Arts in London (through Dec. 15) in the same way as someone born after 1960. The oldie remembers the exuberant optimism of art's embrace of the mass media that lay at the core of Pop: superficial, maybe, but promising a fresh world of demotic feeling. The younger visitor, whose baby sitter was...

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