Pop art is an artistic movement that began in the 1950s, born out of an interest in mass media, popular culture and everyday life. Many artists responded to this zeitgeist through their artwork by fusing commercial imagery with fine art to create pieces both approachable and provocative.
Richard Hamilton coined the term ‘Pop’ in 1956 with his collage “Just What makes today’s homes so different?”. Exhibited at Whitechapel Gallery in London, this painting marked the start of Pop art as we know it today.
Early Pop artists such as Ed Ruscha, Jasper Johns and Andy Warhol all had prior careers as commercial artists who were well-versed in the visual language of popular culture.
They had an in-depth knowledge of the art market, making it easier for them to seamlessly blend commercial products with fine art. They actively sought out ways to transform everyday objects into works of art through techniques such as silkscreen printing and photomontage.
Pop artists were able to capture this social upheaval in America through images taken from newspapers, magazines, and advertisements. Additionally, they employed a range of mediums and materials in their works–from paintings and sculpture to installations–for this endeavor.
Some of the greatest American artists include Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol and Claes Oldenburg. These three men are renowned for their use of popular imagery as well as parody.
Lichtenstein’s paintings were meticulous, hard-edged compositions that observed and documented his environment while using comic strip imagery to parody it. He is widely credited as being a pioneer of using comic strips in art, and his works continue to have an immense influence on Pop Art today.
He became renowned for his soft sculptures, which were large public replicas of consumerist objects that he created by covering them with vinyl and stuffing them with kapok. These often took the shape of ice cream cones, cakes, and mixers.
Other noteworthy American Pop artists include James Rosenquist and Robert Rauschenberg. These masterful artists combined commercial imagery from magazines with expressive brushwork to create remarkable collages.
Rosenquist and Rauschenberg both had a mastery of the printed medium, enabling them to combine magazine images with stunning brushwork in an innovative way that was unique in modern art. Additionally, they employed various mediums like oil paint and pastel for their works.
Rosenquist and Rauschenberg took a more traditional approach to painting, while Warhol adopted an abstract style. He used bold colors, thick outlines, and Ben-Day dots in order to evoke comic-strip images reproduced by newspapers.
Their works are easily recognized by their bright primary colors and bold outlines, marking them as influential contributors to the Pop art movement in America.
Pop art began to emerge in America through Robert Rauschenberg, Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol – these three artists being credited with having a major impact on its development.