Anne Wagner writes:
When Hal Foster uses the word ‘first’ in the title of his confidently focused study, he means to start us thinking about Pop now and then. It is a reference to Reyner Banham’s Theory and Design in the First Machine Age (1960), which argued that modernism’s prewar optimism was over and done. ‘We have already entered the Second Machine Age,’ Banham declared, ‘and can look back on the First … as a period of the past.’ Pop artists thought the same: like Banham, who was to become one of Pop’s champions, most were between thirty and forty when Theory and Design was published; the Second World War was behind them; economies were at last expanding; non-stop shopping was the engine of the new prosperity, and Pop artists were determined to keep up. For them, tomorrow had arrived; for Foster, it is here again.