Pop Art is a colorful and exciting art movement

When Pop Art first entered the artistic scene, it was considered shocking and radical. It was the complete opposite of abstract expressionism that came immediately before it.

Pop Art is a colorful and exciting art movement. It made its appearance in the US and the UK in the 1950s. It is the most well-known development in the Arts of the 20th century. When Pop Art first entered the artistic scene, it was considered shocking and radical. It was the complete opposite of abstract expressionism that came immediately before it. 

Pop Art came to be due to popular culture, mass media, and consumerism. Pop artists believed that art taught in schools and exhibited in museums no longer represented the real world. This led them to shift to contemporary mass culture as their inspiration. At the height of its popularity, Pop Art was referred to as "anti-art" because it did not abide by the standards of contemporary art at the time. 

Since its appearance in the 1950s, Pop Art has continued to be a well-known artistic movement. Pop Art saw the end of modern art and the beginning of contemporary art.

What is Pop Art

Pop Art is a movement that was launched in the 1950s in Great Britain by a group of writers, sculptures, and critics who referred to themselves as the Independent Group. The movement then spread to the United States. The movement increased in popularity through the sixties. 

Pop Art as a cultural phenomenon officially began when it was featured in the Whitechapel Gallery in London.

Pop Art artists used commonplace objects such as newspapers, magazines, soup cans, comic strips, and more in their artworks. 

Pop artists considered modern art as elitist and empty. Such artists as Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol achieved exceptional fame and celebrity status. Pop Art today is one of the most recognized art forms. 

The art pieces created by Pop Artists are defined by a repetitive approach, bright-colored palettes, and bold imagery. The Pop Art movement gets its inspiration from mass production. The movement is also known for its recognizable and unique style.

Pop Art Characteristics

Pop Art artist Richard Hamilton, the founder of Pop Art, defines Pop Art as:

  • Popular or designed with the mass audience in mind. 

  • Expendable or easily forgotten.

  • Transient or a short-term solution. 

  • Mass-produced

  • Low-cost

  • Created for the youth 

  • Sexy

  • Glamorous

  • Witty

  • Big business

It is easy to recognize Pop Art because of its unique characteristics and vibrancy. It uses popular household objects and consumer symbols. The most iconic Pop Arts include: 

Commercial or branded symbolism is an integral theme in Pop Art. Including impersonal imagery or brand logos into art pieces reinforced the theory that everything and anything, not just mythology, history, or morality, could be an inspiration for art pieces. 

Pop Art is characterized by: 

  • Bright Colors

Bright and vibrant colors including red, blue, and yellow. These colors were predominantly used, especially by Roy Lichtenstein in his works of art. 

  • Recognizable Images

Icons and images from popular products and media. This included commercial items such as logos and brand names, photos of celebrities, soup cans, newspapers, road signs, and other items used in the commercial world. 

  • Satire and Irony

Humor was widely used in Pop Art to make fun of fads, make a stand on current events, and challenge existing conditions. 

  • Mixed Collage and Media

Pop Artists often used a blend of materials and a variety of media. This included the use of unrelated images in a single canvas and different materials to create a single sculpture. 

  • New Techniques

The printmaking process, specifically silkscreen printing ( a process of transferring to canvas or paper an image through a stencil on a mesh screen), was used by many Pop artists for quick mass production. Lithography ( printing from stone or metal plates) was also used for visual design. 

Most Famous Pop Arts

Campbell's Soup Cans by Andy Warhol (1952) 

The Campbell's Soup Cans depicts the cans linearly aligned as if they were on a supermarket shelf. Different flavors of the Campbell's Soup Cans are hand-painted on canvas. The cans are uniformly replicated on canvas and can only be distinguished by the label of the different flavors. This is the best example of Pop Art with a mass-produced advertising style. 

Marilyn Diptych by Andy Warhol (1962) 

The Marilyn Diptych is a multi-canvas portrait of Marilyn Monroe. Each canvas is rendered in a block, neon colors with an overlapping silkscreen effect. One half of this art piece is colored, and the other half is in neutral black and white with faded print effects. 

Whaam! by Roy Lichtenstein (1963) 

This is a large, 2-canvas painting inspired by a comic book strip. On the left side of the canvass is an American fighter plane that is firing a missile on an approaching enemy plane on the right-hand canvass. 

Brillo Boxes by Andy Warhol (1964)

This is a product-style sculpture with the Brillo Soap Pads Box logo and product information painted on a replica of a supermarket box from plywood. These boxes were the exact replicas of the real Brillo Boxes. 

Crack is Wack by Keith Haring(1986)

This is a street mural at East 128th Street and 2nd Avenue, New York City. This mural was created as a reaction to the drug use epidemic in New York. This piece of art features large block letters in comic style circled by a cloud of smoke. A crowd of people in chaos is painted below the letters. The crowd is outshined by a skeleton with a pipe and a burning dollar depicting the danger of drugs.  

Nurse by Roy Lichtenstein (1964)

Nurse illustrates a nurse in a comic book style. Her uniform, white-collar, and starched white hat clearly show that she is a nurse. Her blue eyes, blond hair, and juicy red lips give this artwork a touch of hidden sexuality. 

Drowning Girl by Roy Lichtenstein (1963)

Drowning Girl is often referred to as "I Don't Care! I'd Rather Sink" because of the words printed on the speech balloon used in comic books. The Girl appears to be a victim of a failed love affair who would rather drown instead of asking to be saved by her lover. Drowning Girl, after Whaam! is the most famous painting of Roy Lichtenstein. 

Flag by Jasper Johns (1955) 

The flag is one of the most identifiable artworks of the Pop Art movement. This painting by Jasper Johns became so successful that he made over 40 works of art with the American flag as his inspiration. 

Just What is It that Makes Today's Homes so Different, so Appealing by Richard Hamilton (1956)

This collage was featured in Richard Hamilton's Man, Machine, and Motion exhibit. This is considered one of the earliest Pop Artworks. The lollipop in the hand of the central figure (Tootsie Pop) is what gave this art form its name (Pop Art). This collage consists of images lifted from American magazines. 

On the Balcony by Peter Blake (1957)

This oil painting collage combines pop culture and fine art images. The name of this artwork was derived from The Balcony, 1898, by Eduard Manet's, the copy of which is held by the boy with glasses on the left-hand side of the collage. Peter Blake's artworks mainly consist of film stars, music-hall entertainers, wrestlers, advertising collaterals, and more. On the Balcony is one of the most iconic British pop art pieces. 

Why is the Pop Art Movement Unique? 

The Pop Art movement is unique because it focuses on real and relevant subject matters. The Pop Art movement allowed the masses and not just the elite to appreciate art. Pop Art was respected and recognized by the general public because the art pieces were inspired by cultural moments and commercial figures. 

Because it was acceptable to the masses, Pop Art came to be known as the art of the people.  

American Pop Art vs. British Pop Art

Pop Art in Great Britain and the United States is based on similar principles. While American Pop Art inspired British Pop Art, there lie some differences: 

  • British Pop Art approached Pop Art with more emotion, humor, and distance. 

  • American Pop Art was based on the culture of consumerism, media, and entertainment. 

American Pop Art was, therefore, more aggressive, and its stylistic and aesthetic characteristics were more defined. 

American Pop artists drew inspiration from inspiration and what they saw within their society and culture. The "American Dream" of the 1950s and 1960s brought about a culture of celebrity worship because, by this time, almost every household in the US had a television set. 

British Pop Art artists, on the other hand, drew inspiration from afar or from the perspective of an outsider. They borrowed objects and images from post-war America. British Pop artists created art also based on the "American Dream" extolled on newspapers, television, and advertising. 

Final Thoughts

Pop Art remains popular and relevant in modern times. The Pop Art movement was significant because it symbolized the shift of artists drawing inspiration from religion and nature to the ordinary aspects of everyday life. More importantly, Pop Art connected art to the masses because they could relate to and recognize the images.