PRINT October 2004


the School of Pop

When a cadre of ambitious French artists incorporated themselves into the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture in 1648, they sought to elevate their new company by setting strict rules of decorum. Prominent in its inaugural code was the stipulation that no academician be permitted to keep a shop or even to allow the display of his work in such a way that it could be seen from the street. At a stroke, the academy severed art in its high-minded sense from its formerly easygoing relations with the everyday requirements of commerce. Beforehand, if a painter or carver wanted to turn out an eye-catching signboard for an artisan friend, no habit or stigma stood in his way. But the “royal” aspirations of the new group forbade this kind of sullying participation in the mere conduct of trade. Afterward, such gestures could recur only under the cover of irony or as a pointedly temporary break with

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