One of the most recognizable art movements in recent US and UK history is pop art. This style is defined by using popular culture as an inspiration, using repetition of images in the same artwork, and mass producing artworks.
Pop art first started appearing in the US and the UK in the 1950s and 1960s. Before pop art, the style of abstract expressionism was one of the most popular art forms. The development of pop art was a stark contrast to the spontaneous and personal core of abstract expressionism.
Pop art drew inspiration from popular culture, which rejected some of the individuality that was prized by artists before pop art gained notoriety. Even though the name might sound like it means otherwise, pop art was not in fact popular when it was first created. The name instead refers to the things it drew inspiration from, such as film or comic characters, style, or brands.
Beyond being inspired by popular culture and society, pop art had a few fundamental ideals behind the movement.
One of the most notable things that pop art did was that it blurred the lines between high art and commercial art. Suddenly, artists could become renowned by leaning into commercial culture, rather than serving as an alternative to it.
This made art more accessible to those who weren’t “high brow” or wealthy. Pop art was also often mass produced, which made it possible for many people to obtain, and made an effort not to be unique. Ironically, this effort to have individual creations of pop art not be unique made the movement itself unique.
As a broad style of art, pop art comes in many forms. You can find pop art represented in paintings, prints, sculptures, and many other art mediums. It was not limited to form, but rather to the influence behind the art.
In this time, many forms of art were starting to become blended. You could combine painting, collage, and photography into one mixed-media artwork.
Along with the inspiration material, something that made pop art different from other art at the time was the theme or repetition in the art. This is in a similar spirit to using pop culture, since it emphasizes mass production and the anti-unique attitude that pop art centered around.
College art used images and clippings from other media such as newspapers, advertisements, and magazines, and combined them into a new artwork. Using these commercial source materials to make something that had a commentary on society or life was a popular art form.
Neo Dadaism is similar to collage in that it uses found items or everyday items and turns them into art, further blurring the line between the mundane and what is considered art.
Imitation is central to pop art as well. This means that pop artists took images, styles, or inspiration from popular culture and turned it into a different form of art. A good example of this would be using the comic book illustration style in a painting or a sculpture, rather than in a book.
Arguably the most famous pop artist is Andy Warhol, who is best known for his Marilyn Diptych. Even those who don’t know much about pop art know who Andy Warhol is, and could probably identify some of his work.
However, he wasn’t the only famous or important pop artist. Artists such as Roy Lichtenstein, Takashi Murakami, Alex Katz, Peter Blake, Steve Kaufman, Robert Rauschenberg, and many more were incredible pop artists whose work is still relevant in the art world today
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