JUST WHY IS IT that Pop, after three decades, retains so much of its youthful exuberance and vibrant appeal?“ writes Marco Livingstone, organizer of ”The Pop Art Show" at the Royal Academy of Arts, London, at one point in his catalogue overview.1 The sentence jumps off the page, its syntax and tone precisely those of Richard Hamilton’s title for his famous collage of 1956: Just what is it that makes today’s homes so different, so appealing? Surely, one thinks, the exactness of the parallel is intended, and, therefore, this rhetorical question must be designed, as it was in Hamilton’s piece, to put ironic brackets around the advertising catchphrases it knowingly deploys. Let the visitor, it seems to say, be skeptical about the uncomplicated availability of the pleasures on offer.

But that expectation is never fulfilled, not in the surrounding text nor in the cheerfully democratic selection

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