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 through the late 1970s. Artists in the movement aimed to bridge the gap between “high” and “low” culture in order to make art accessible to people from all walks of life. They borrowed and deconstructed images from consumer and popular culture, often showcasing ordinary objects in a new and colorful light.
Unlike the emotionally charged works of the Abstract Expressionists, Pop Art artists created works that were composed and ambivalent. They wanted to challenge the values of mass culture, post-war manufacturing and the media boom. Read on to discover 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 achieved worldwide fame in the late 1950s for his silkscreen prints and colorful paintings.
Warhol began his career as a commercial illustrator. In 1949, he was commissioned by Charm magazine to illustrate shoes for advertisements. Shoes became a bit of an obsession for the artist, but they weren’t the only motif that Warhol repeatedly visited. He was fascinated by consumer culture and later translated photos of everyday objects, including Campbell’s soup cans, Brillo soap boxes and Coca-Cola bottles, into “mass-produced” paintings.
Using the technique of screen printing, Warhol was able to produce 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 an assembly line-like team of assistants.
Warhol was also a prominent figure on 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, ephemeral, expendable, inexpensive, mass-produced, youthful, witty, sexy, whimsical, glamorous and big business.”
Hamilton’s 1956 collage, titled What makes today’s homes so different, so attractive?, was the first work of pop art to achieve iconic status. Made from images cut from magazines, it depicts a domestic living space cluttered with catalog consumer items such as a vacuum cleaner, television and tape recorder. Black and white image of a muscular man – standing in a bodybuilder’s 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, high-impact 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, The Girl with Ball figurine, was inspired by a print ad for Mount Airy Lodge in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania. Lichtenstein also based his iconic drowning girl painting on a comic book cover. He used a projector to trace around the image, replicating the patterns in his distinct stippling style.
The act of “copying” was often criticized and the original artists often went uncredited. However, early disdain for his work never stopped him from trying to bridge the gap between pop culture and “high end” art. “I nominally copy, but I really rephrase the copied thing in other words,” Lichtenstein said. “In doing so, the original acquires a totally different texture. It’s not thick or thin brushstrokes, it’s dots and flat colors and inflexible lines.
Towards the end of his career, Lichtenstein began to move away from his comic book-infused artwork. While his bold graphic style remained the same, he began to explore other themes, including reworking famous masterpieces by Van Gogh, Monet and Cézanne. In doing so, Lichtenstein transformed classic paintings into cartoon-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 to take up screen printing. He began transferring photographs and images found in magazines and newspapers to his canvases in order to visualize the chaos of mass media. His etchings were often overlaid with expressive brushstrokes in oil paint. By fusing painting with photographic printmaking, Rauschenberg bridged the gap between Abstract Expressionism and Pop Art.
Although David Hockey rejected the idea of calling his work Pop Art, he is still considered one of the movement’s pioneering artists. 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 titled A bigger splash, Hockney based the paint splatter on a photograph he found in a swimming pool manual. His goal was to capture the split-second event in a still image. He said of the piece: “I loved the idea of painting this two-second thing: I need two weeks to paint this two-second event.
Keith HaringThe brand’s line drawings are instantly recognizable as its own visual language. He began his career as an underground graffiti artist in New York, but rose to international fame in the 1980s. He used his art to explore topics of social and political significance. 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. His 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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