Pop art history
“Everything is beautiful. Pop is everything.”- One of Any Warhol’s famous quotes rightly explains the rage with which Pop Art had taken over the world. The pop art movement, started in the mid-1950s has redefined the visuals of art and given it a whole new dimension. Following the abstract art popularity, pop art emerged as a complete contrast to the former.
Published on: Mar 4, 2016
Transcripts - Pop art history
Pop art History, Development and Popular Artists
“Everything is beautiful. Pop is everything.”- One of Any Warhol’s famous quotes rightly explains the
rage with which Pop Art had taken over the world. The pop art movement, started in the mid-1950s
has redefined the visuals of art and given it a whole new dimension. Following the abstract art
popularity, pop art emerged as a complete contrast to the former. It was a reintroduction of
identifiable daily life scenarios showing the mentality of a common man. The paintings during this
period were not relating to mythology, classic history, morality or even beauty, rather, pop art
symbolized the common human behaviour using very identifiable imagery. It was a result of the
industrialization and the consequential capitalism that hit America and caught the world by a storm-so
did the pop art culture.
Pop Artists concentrated their attention to something very trifle yet necessary in a regular man’s life.
Some of the paintings largely involved soda cans, Coca-Cola, hamburgers, neon signs, Super markets,
soup cans. In short, pop art stands for everything commercial and cheap. Also, it showcased a variety
of capitalist ideas such as convenient, plastic, shallow, plain, impersonal, consumer focused,
disposable, vulgar and sexy.
Pop Art History:
Pop art originated in North America and Great Britain. But the development of this form of art was
completely different in both. In the United States, pop art emerged as a hard core representation of
the mundane reality of human existence. It was a symbol of parody, irony, rebellion and aggression.
The art was inspired by the American culture itself and sometimes brought out is proverbial ‘worst’.
In a complete contrast, the pop art movement of Great Britain was a display of the American culture
as paradoxical and dynamic. Its views in the form of art depicted America’s culture as manipulative,
powerful and dominative. Britain’s pop art ideas were predominantly fuelled by what they saw of
the American culture from afar. Whereas the American pop art ideas were the result of living within
In Great Britain:
The independent group of London, founded in 1952 is considered as a pioneer of the pop art
Movement. This group was a gathering of young artists, architects, sculptors and critics who had a
streak of rebellion for the abstract. They wanted to showcase the mundaneness of modern culture
and ideas. In 1952, Eduardo Paolozzi presented a lecture using a set of collages titled Bunk! Which
he made out of the things he collected during his time in Paris. One of the highlights of his
presentation was Paolizzi’s 1947 collage A rich man’s play thing, which incidentally included the
word ‘pop’ appearing in a cloud of smoke emerging from a revolver. After this, the Independent
Group primarily focused on the American pop culture and its artistic depiction.
The word ‘Pop Art’ coined by John McHale for the subsequent movement in 1954. The words ‘Pop
Art’ first appeared in in published print in an article by Alison and Peter Smithson, member of the
Independent Group. In spite of this, the term ‘Pop Art’ is largely credited to British art critic/curator
Lawrence Alloway in a 1958 essay titled The Arts and Mass Media, though he uses the words
‘popular mass culture’.
In United States:
Though Pop Art started in the late 1950s, the high tide of pop culture and pop art came to the US I
the 1960s. The term Pop Art was officially introduced in December 1962 in an event called
‘Symposium of Pop Art’ organized by the Museum of Modern Art. It was curing this phase that the
American advertising has already adopted various aspects of Pop Art and was functioning in a very
sophisticated manner. So the artists had to delve deeper for dramatic styles and ideas that would
enable them to distinguish between the well-designed advertisements and their art. American Pop
Artists relied on the day to day scenarios for duplication into their art work. The inspiration of the
artists for their pop art work was also derived from Hollywood artists. Not only that, every object of
daily life was an image ready to be reproduced on canvas. For American pop artists- everything was
pop art and pop art was everything.
Development of Pop Art:
The main theme of Pop art was derived by techniques derived from popular mass culture. Some of
these areas include comics, advertisements, mundane daily life objects and even the behaviour of
people. It was considered as a rebellion of the intense abstract art form. Pop Art became the symbol
of irony depicting the banality of life.
The colors used by Pop artists were primarily vibrant. Colors like yellow, blue and red were
favourites of pop artists. Unlike other art forms, in which the colors used by the artist represent the
artist’s inner emotions and his view of the world, in pop art, artist used colors referring to the pop
culture. Not just the colors, but the prints were also experimented with during this period. For
example, silk screen printing became widely popular during this period and was used in mass
production as well.
Pop art was straightforward and the pictures were very simple to understand. The art was
represented mainly with symbol, precision, people and objects of pop culture and sharp paintwork.
It was a replacement of the Dada culture with satirical, anti-war, political artwork. For Pop art, the
consumer and the mass culture was the source of inspiration and support.
During this period, artists gave the impression of a satire by enlarging object to massive proportions.
Food was a common topic of paintings in the pop movement. All the household objects displayed in
the paintings were made of squishy plastic instead of what they are supposed to be made of.
During this period, you could see the product labels on the paintings done by the artists. Also, the
labelling on the shipping board was used as in inspiration by pop artists. Some examples include
Campbell’s Tomato Juice box or Brillo Soap Box sculpture. All of these depictions were insanely
precise and delivered straight to the point.
During the later years, pop culture grew stronger than ever. Almost the whole of the world had a tint
on pop in some field or the other. But the trend was the strongest in America and Britain. Pop art
was incorporated in every aspect of every field. It became a national symbol of expression. It was in
consumption, television, comics, fashion and advertising. In the pop movement, art was given a
whole new definition.
Even till this day, pop art is appreciated for what it has contributed to the world. Its traces still
remain even today. Pop Art’s success is still hailed, irrespective of the painting being an original or
the prints of the original. Pop art was not just a boom during a specific period, it became a part of
daily life and has integrated itself in the 21st century as well. You can still see it wherever you go.
Pop art or popular art is just as popular as it was before. It still appeals to the public at a deeper
level. This is because of the fact that pop art can connect with people and everyone can associate it
with it. This is because it has come from within us, from our daily lives. Pop art lives on as a part of
Pop art can never go out of fashion as it is a part of what the people have become. Today, pop art is
used for designing t-shirts, posters, colourful birthday cards, calendars, canvas and decorations.
The pop art style is ageless. The bright colors, the dots and the irony can never grow old. Pop art has
just evolved with the ages. It has never gone out of style or fashion. It is a part of every individual
and for this sole reason, it has never lost its sheen. This is also because it has gained a large number
of supporters and momentum. It has crossed nations, boundaries, religions and cultures. Pop Art has
become an international phenomenon.
It is not some exquisite piece of art, something that should be analysed intellectually. It is the real,
rude reality. Something that everyone has to live with. In spite of this, pop art is a source of
inspiration to artists till this date. You can catch a glimpse of the pop culture in today’s work. Pop Art
makes for cool and innovative designs. Features like strong multiple dots, series of images with
different hues and saturation.
Popular Pop Artists:
Two important painters during this period were Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg. The
paintings of Rauschenberg were derived from the works of Kurt Schwitters and other Dadaists.
Robert Rauschenberg was primarily concerned about the social causes of the movement that the
Roy Lichtenstein has also played a great role in the development of pop art. His works were primarily
focused on satires and parodies. He has famously stated:
"Everybody has called Pop Art 'American' painting, but it's actually industrial painting. America was
hit by industrialism and capitalism harder and sooner and its values seem more askew... I think the
meaning of my work is that it's industrial, it's what all the world will soon become."
Lichtenstein's most renowned works are made of oil and Magna Paint. One such example is the
Drowning Girl. His paintings created a photographic impression using bold dots, lines and colors.
Andy Warhol is one of the most famous Pop artists of all ties. Most of his paintings depict precision
in replication of the daily life. His world famous paintings of the Campbell soup cans are an example
of just that. His art , just like those of Tom Wesselmann and Roy Lichtenstein derive inspiration from
the commonplace mundane scenarios. They present this in the most blunt manner.
Andy Warhol's artistic expression has made him a leading figure in the visual art movement. he
started out as a commercial illustrator and turned into a famous and sometimes controversial artist.
His art surpassed several forms of media including drawing, painting, print making, photography, silk
screening , music, sculpture and films. he also became a fore runner in computer generated art using
Amiga computers which were introduced in 1984.
The Pop art movement, its effect on the mass audience and its popularity is rightly depicted by the
following quotes by the popular pop artists:
" My fascination with letting images repeat and repeat or in film's case 'run-on'-manifests my belief
that we spend much of our lives seeing without observing"- Andy Warhol
"Popular (designed for a mass audience); transient (short-term solution); expendable (easily
forgotten); low cost; mass produced; young (aimed at youth); witty; sexy; gimmicky; glamorous; and
last but not least, Big Business."
- Richard Hamilton, defining what Pop art means to him
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