Essay on Pop Art History
Pop art started in London in 1952, when a group of artists, Eduardo Paolozzi, Richard Hamilton, Alison, and Peter Smithson, Lawrence Alloway, and many others, began to meet on a regular basis to discuss topics such as mass culture’s place in fine arts. At that time, Britain was still emerging from post-war years, and the group felt a promising future the world of pop culture would bring. These artists went on to create some of the first pop artworks, and the term has been accredited to them.
Around the late 1950s and early 1960s, in America, there was a cultural revolution that started. Led by artists, activists, thinkers, and many more, the rebellion was laid out to change what was happening during that time. People began to protest for the Vietnam War, and Civil Rights fought for equality for African Americans. With the increased turbulence, artists began to emerge in both America and Britain, artists looking for inspiration from items in their environment or just their environment. The artists adopted commercial advertising methods such as producing multiple works and worked to downplay the abstract expressionists that dominated postwar. Simultaneously, other artists such as Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein wanted to connect fine art traditions with the mass culture.
Roy Lichtenstein is one of the fathers of pop art and has influenced many artists with his work. Lichtenstein’s love for art was shown early on; he painted, drew, and sculpted throughout his teen years. He even studied painting and drawing at the Art Students League of New York one summer. “Lichtenstein objected to the notion that one set of lines (one person’s drawings) “was considered brilliant, and somebody’s else’s that may have looked better to you was considered nothing by almost everyone.” He believed everyone’s art mattered whether or not someone came and told them it wasn’t good enough. After he was drafted in 1943 and spent some time finishing his degree by 1949, Lichtenstein began working on his first artworks in the early 1950s. He created paintings and prints that played on medieval times and the nineteenth-century American genre.
In the 1960s, he began to borrow images from advertisements and comic books and create works of art. Some of his most famous works are “Whaam!”, a comic strip based on a DC comic, or “Crying Girl,” which is a painting of a blonde girl crying in the comic book style art and Ben-day dots. Lichtenstein’s art styles changed over the years, and he created landscapes during his Brushstroke Series, a Cathedral Series, and made Impressionism his own. He created art through commercial styles and took from many different types like Cubism and Expressionism later in his art career. Lichtenstein reimagined pop art through traditional art history and has influenced many artists since.
Andy Warhol was and still is one of the most influential artists in contemporary art and culture. He created artworks throughout his life that inspired other creative artists/thinkers around the world. Warhol is known for paintings such as “Campbell’s Soup Cans,” “Shot Marilyns,” and “Orange Prince.” He was curious enough to create artworks that spanned over every medium and helped collapse high and low culture boundaries. Born as Andrew Warhola, Andy Warhol found escape in popular magazines and comic books only in his room as a young child due to a neurological disorder. He later moved to New York City, which he never left, and quickly began working as a commercial artist for various companies such as Tiffany & Co., Vogue, NBC, and many others. During the early 1950s, Warhol turned to drawing and painting which many art museums began to take notice of his works.
The 1960s and early 1970s were a creative and productive time for Warhol. He began to create works of art with his background in advertisements repeatedly made by silk-screening. He took everyday products or celebrities such as soup cans or Marilyn Monroe. Warhol understood that stars were just like anyone else that just got lucky and believed it created a dynamic for a love-hate relationship. People hate a little because they’re famous and they aren’t, but people also love them more when they are struck with tragedy and prove they are human like the rest of us. This may be why people believe he became more infatuated with celebrities after disaster strikes them. He painted these objects over and over to point out and prove that America was a consumer society. During these times, television, movies, advertisements instead of books and literature were centered around American society. Americans’ knowledge no longer came from high-cultured sources, and Warhol found influence in those things and criticized it within his art.
Warhol created films during this period but took them in a different direction. He made a template for what is now reality TV. His first films were bland and vague, with “Sleep,” a five-hour movie of a man sleeping, and “Empire,” an eight-hour film of the Empire State Building embracing the night. In the mid-1960s, Warhol created a film called “Chelsea Girls,” which was a twin-screen docudrama unscripted. The film involved many residents of the Chelsea Hotel and primarily focused on drugged trust-fund girls. Andy seemed to be proving his most famous statement, “In the future, everyone will be famous for 15 minutes”. Warhol continued to create films and art up until he died in 1987. Andy believed that all the corruption in the world was art.
Andy Warhol’s influence on art is still strong today, as are many of society’s ideas. Andy was able to create a classic gold standard piece with a soup can painted over and over. He proved artists could create art through anything. His lasting influence in TV, movies, painting, photography, and many others has led to many reality shows like “Survivor.”
Pop art became popular during the rise of consumerism that came from new advertising and manufacturing technologies as a response to such things. “Artists like Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, and Alex Katz began to use familiar objects and images from pop culture to make pop art readily recognizable and accessible to a larger portion of the population. And while previous art movements had been cynical and even destructive, pop art was very preppy, as it both critiqued and celebrated pop culture. “
Each artist created their work style and took on contemporary pop art, but it all was influenced by the current pop culture. Today we see aspects of pop art in magazines, advertisements, and modern art. Over the years, pop art came in and out, but its inspiration never left. Kanye West’s “Graduation” album or Lady Gaga’s “Artpop” album was influenced by pop art and is considered pop art today. Pop art will always hold influence in the world. Artists today are still able to create things relevant through time. Some argue it may be more prevalent than ever in our current society or even never left. Pop art is continuously a source of inspiration for artists, fashion designers and even the entertainment industry. Warhol once said, “Isn’t life a series of images that change as they repeat.”