The filmic fugue of Ken Russell’s Pop Goes the Easel

Wyver, J. 2015. The filmic fugue of Ken Russell’s Pop Goes the Easel. Journal of British Cinema and Television. 12 (4), pp. 438-451.

TitleThe filmic fugue of Ken Russell’s Pop Goes the Easel
AuthorsWyver, J.
Abstract

First broadcast as an episode of BBC Television’s Monitor in 1962, Ken Russell’s documentary film Pop Goes the Easel profiles four young artists: Pauline Boty, Peter Phillips, Derek Boshier and Peter Blake. With an exuberant and richly varied approach to filming, Pop Goes the Easel is a rich and revealing document of early Pop Art in London. This article situates the film within the context of television’s engagement with the visual arts in the medium’s first 25 years. It is argued that part of its significance within the tradition of the visual arts on television is its resistance to the determinations of an explanatory voice. Also, that its achievement combines and develops approaches of photojournalism, documentary and art cinema from the mid- and late 1950s. It is further proposed that Pop Goes the Easel is especially note-worthy for its finely-balanced tensions between discourses traditionally understood as oppositional: the stasis of artworks versus the linear narrative of film; the indexical qualities of documentary versus the inventions of fiction; the mass-produced elements and images of popular culture versus the individual authorship and authority of high art; the abstracted rationality of critical discourse versus explosions of embodied sensuality; and the determinations and closure of a singular meaning versus polysemous openness.

KeywordsKen Russell, BBC, arts documentary, Monitor, Pop Art
JournalJournal of British Cinema and Television
Journal citation12 (4), pp. 438-451
ISSN1743-4521
Year2015
PublisherEdinburgh University Press
Accepted author manuscript150524_Wyver_Pop Goes the Easel [revised].pdf
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)doi:10.3366/jbctv.2015.0279
Web address (URL)http://www.euppublishing.com/doi/abs/10.3366/jbctv.2015.0279
Publication dates
PublishedSep 2015

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