6 famous artists who defined the vibrant pop art movement
Following the popularity of abstract expressionists, Pop art breathed new life into the modern art scene from the mid-1950s to the late 1970s. The artists of the movement aimed to bridge the gap between “high” and “low” culture in order to render art accessible to people from all walks of life. They borrowed and deconstructed images from consumer culture and popular culture, often presenting ordinary objects in a new and colorful light.
Unlike the emotionally charged works of Abstract Expressionists, Pop Art artists have created composed and ambivalent works. They wanted to challenge the values of mass culture, post-war manufacturing and the media boom. Read on to find out about six famous artists who defined the radical movement.
Here are six iconic artists who dominated the Pop Art movement.
When you think of the Pop Art movement, the first artist that probably comes to mind is Andy Warhol. The prolific and pioneering designer gained worldwide fame in the late 1950s for his silkscreen prints and colorful paintings.
Warhol started his career as a commercial illustrator. In 1949, he was appointed by Charm magazine to illustrate shoes for advertisements. Shoes became an obsession for the artist, but they weren’t the only motif Warhol visited time and time again. He was fascinated by consumer culture and went on to translate photos of everyday objects, including cans of Campbell’s soup, cans of Brillo soap pads, and bottles of Coca-Cola, into “mass produced” paintings.
Using the screen printing technique, Warhol was able to reproduce the same image over and over again in multiple colors. “The reason I paint this way is that I want to be a machine,” he said in 1963, “and I feel like everything I do and do like a machine is what I want to do. Warhol even opened his studio – affectionately called The Factory – where he produced his work with a team of assembly line-like assistants.
Warhol was also a prominent figure in the New York social scene and he often explored the connection between celebrity culture and artistic expression. Some of his most iconic works feature famous faces such as Marilyn Monroe and Elvis Presley.
Known as “the father of the Pop Art movement”, Richard hamilton is believed to have been the person who coined the term himself. In a letter to architects Alison and Peter Smithson, he said: “Pop art is: popular, fleeting, disposable, cheap, mass produced, youthful, witty, sexy, whimsical, glamorous and big business.
Hamilton’s 1956 collage, titled What makes homes today so different and so attractive?, was the first work of pop art to achieve iconic status. Made from images cut out from magazines, it depicts a domestic living space cluttered with consumer items from the catalog such as a vacuum cleaner, television, and tape recorder. The black-and-white image of a muscular man – standing in a bodybuilder pose – holds a giant lollipop with the word “POP” on it as he points to the half-naked woman on the opposite couch. The work reflects Hamilton’s cynical interest in popular culture and modern technology.
american artist Roy Lichtenstein became a leading figure in the Pop Art movement in the 1960s. Perhaps best known for his comic book-inspired paintings, he created vibrant and punchy works rendered in his thick black outlines and Ben-Day dots. Many of his works were adaptations of pre-existing commercial images and comic book illustrations. One of his most famous works, Girl with Ball figurine, was inspired by a print advertisement for the Mount Airy Lodge in the Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania. Lichtenstein also based his iconic Drowning girl cartoon cover painting. He used a projector to trace around the image, replicating the patterns in his distinct stipple style.
The act of “copying” has often been criticized and the original artists have often not been credited. However, precocious disdain for his work never stopped him from trying to bridge the gap between pop culture and high brow art. “I nominally copy, but I really rephrase the copied thing in other words,” Lichtenstein said. “By doing this, the original acquires an entirely different texture. These are not thick or thin brush strokes, they are solid dots and colors and inflexible lines.
Towards the end of his career, Lichtenstein began to move away from his comic book inspired works. While his bold graphic style remained the same, he began to explore other themes, including reworking famous masterpieces by Van Gogh, Monet and Cezanne. In doing so, Lichtenstein transformed classic paintings into comic book-style works that resonate with the modern masses.
american artist Robert rauschenberg has worked in a wide range of mediums including painting, sculpture and photography. After visiting Andy Warhol’s studio in 1962, he was inspired by screen printing. He began transferring photographs and images found from magazines and newspapers onto his canvases in order to visualize the chaos of mass media. His prints were often covered with expressive brush strokes in oil paint. By merging painting with photographic printmaking, Rauschenberg bridged the gap between Abstract Expressionism and Pop Art.
Although David Hockey rejecting the idea of calling his work Pop Art, he is still considered one of the pioneering artists of the movement. The 83-year-old British artist works as a painter, draftsman, printmaker, set designer and photographer. However, he is perhaps best known for his vibrant paintings of Los Angeles swimming pools.
For one of his most famous works entitled A bigger splash, Hockney based the paint splash on a photograph he found in a pool manual. Its aim was to capture the event in a fraction of a second in a still image. He said of the piece: “I loved the idea of painting this thing that lasts two seconds: it takes me two weeks to paint this event that lasts two seconds.
Keith haringTrademark line drawings are instantly recognizable as their own visual language. He started his career as an underground graffiti artist in New York City, but gained international fame in the 1980s. He used his art to explore topics of social and political importance. In particular, his works often deal with themes of homosexuality and AIDS. This subject was of particular importance to the artist, as he himself was diagnosed in 1988. Sadly, Haring’s life was cut short in 1990 when he died of AIDS-related complications at the age of. 31 years. Its legacy, however, lives on.
Aiming to make art more accessible to everyone, Haring opened his Pop Shop in 1986 where he sold posters, t-shirts and more adorned with his iconic designs. Even today, his designs continue to impress art lovers and his work continues to be exhibited around the world.
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