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Pop Art 101: An Art Buyer's Guide To The Popular Art Genre

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Pop Art 101: An Art Buyer's Guide To The Popular Art Genre
Andy Warhol, Campbell's Soup Cans. 1962. Image courtesy of MoMA

 

What Is Pop Art?

Pop Art is an artistic movement that emerged in the 1950s as a reaction to the rise of consumerism, mass media, and pop culture in the early 20th century. Said to originate in Britain, Pop Art came to flourish in the sixties in both Britain and America, with pioneers: Eduardo Paolozzi, James Rosenquist, Andy Warhol, Richard Linder, Claes Oldenburg, and Roy Lichtenstein employing popular imagery to pave the way for this international phenomenon.

Pop Art was groundbreaking in that it challenged and recontextualized traditional “high art” values as well as systems of morality, mythology, and classical history commonly associated with art during the time. The movement distinguishably focused on capturing and celebrating everyday objects through the manipulation, appropriation, and replication of commercial goods and images from popular culture.

Richard Hamilton, Just what is it that makes today's homes so different, so appealing? 1956

Richard Hamilton, Just what is it that makes today's homes so different, so appealing? 1956. Located at Kunsthalle Tübingen © the artist

The Rise of Pop Art

Pop Art came about as a result of the prosperity experienced by the UK and the US following World War II. With the exponential growth of infrastructure, factories, mass media, particularly the explosion of consumerism, pop art drew upon familiar everyday objects and popular media: such as comic books, magazines, newspapers, and television. Works were produced in vibrant compositions, emphasizing the kitschy and banal elements from any culture.

Although styles of pop art can vary, all Pop artists shared a common ground in their choice of iconography, which typically consisted of an element taken from popular culture and consumerism in their work. From the collages of Richard Hamilton and Eduardo Paolozzi to the repetitious yet spritely colored works of Marylin Monroe by Warhol, and Roy Lichtenstein's comic-book-inspired paintings; each artist had their own means of defining pop art through their own artistic expression.

James Rosenquist, President Elect, 1960–61

James Rosenquist, President Elect, 1960–61. 

Image courtesy of James Rosenquist 

American Vs. British Pop Art

Major differences between American pop art and British pop art were in the very conception of the genre. Although both were inspired by the same subject matter, in the United States, pop art was considered “hard-edged’, with advertising and consumerism, irony and sarcasm, heavily influencing American pop artists and their work. However, in Britain rather than fully immersing themselves in ideas pertaining to popular culture and mass media, British pop artists tended to take an academic approach, believing that pop art could connect the masses by creating art about the relatability of everyday life.

Roy Lichtenstein, Sunrise, 1965

Roy Lichtenstein, Sunrise, 1965

Image courtesy of Christie's 

American Pop Art

"Pop Art looks out into the world. It doesn't look like a painting of something, it looks like the thing itself." - Andy Warhol

Pop Art in America is largely denoted as representational art – art that represents the visual world in an instantly recognizable way. In contrast to abstract expressionism, where artists heavily utilized emotion, gesture, and spontaneity to create their works, American pop artists used simple, bold, and hard lines, creating absolute and distinct forms to illustrate their subject matter. In the US, pop art was an important reflection of the ‘American Dream’. In post-war America, the glitz and glamour brought by Hollywood, rise of advertising, mass production and consumerism were all aspects pop artists drew upon to commentate on this ‘new’ life that Americans were experiencing. Pop Art focused on the impersonal and distanced from ideas concerned with individuality. In this way, feelings and personal emotions were less stressed, and bold, punchy color use was heavily emphasized. 

Sir Eduardo Paolozzi, Improved Beans, 1949

Sir Eduardo Paolozzi, Improved Beans, 1949. 

Image courtesy of Christie's 

British Pop Art

"The artist in twentieth-century urban life is inevitably a consumer of mass culture and potentially a contributor to it" - Richard Hamilton

It is believed that the artistic collective named “The Independent Group” (IG) was, in fact, the precursors of the Pop Art movement in the early 1950s. The group, which was made up of artists, sculptors, writers, architects, and critics all believed that the topic of mass culture should be integrated into dialogues concerned with high culture. Taking a more academic and analytical approach, British pop artists examined the different types of popular imagery that came from America, and how the rise of commodification and consumerism was influencing – perhaps manipulating – people’s lives. British pop art aimed to democratize art in a way that it could be experienced and understood by everyone through a common visual language.  

Jeff Koons, Balloon Dog, 1994-2000

Jeff Koons, Balloon Dog, 1994-2000

Image courtesy of The Independent 

The Impact and Influence of Pop Art

Pop Art is considered one of the most popular art movements as it rebelled against traditional notions and conceptions associated with art contemporaneously. Stylistically, methodologically, materially, and conceptually, the genre was an art style that deviated from previous artistic movements drastically.

Pop art continues to influence contemporary artistic practices, for it focuses on the visual vernacular of mass-communication - a topic that is still extremely relevant in present-day society. Pop Art is far-reaching and cross-cultural, it appeals to a wide range of individuals, which is why the movement has been greatly impactful over the decades. Contemporary artists such as Jeff Koons, Takashi Murakami, and Damien Hirst were significantly influenced by the Pop movement, and are commonly referred to as Neo-Pop artists.

A neon installation by Tracey Emin and a trio of Andy Warhol lithographs hang above a vintage Milo Baughman sofa.

A neon installation by Tracey Emin and a trio of Andy Warhol lithographs hang above a vintage Milo Baughman sofa.

Image courtesy of Architectural Digest

Keith Haring totem by a curved staircase

Keith Haring totem by a curved staircase

Image courtesy of Architectural Digest

Pop Art for Home Decor

Pop Art is a much-favored movement for it is fun and relatable, making artwork of this genre lovely additions to the home. Characterized by bold and bright colors, pop art can certainly add that much-needed splash of color into any living space, giving a room an instant boost of energy as one walks in – especially if your interiors are mainly monochromatic. Even selecting a piece of pop art that complements certain colors of furniture or even wallpaper can add that extra sense of warmth and homeliness to the space. Pop art brings liveliness and a burst of color into the home and by including a pop art piece in your living area, bedroom, or lounge, it can also bring together other interior elements within the space to create perfect, visual harmony. 

Workspace view featuring artwork by Roy Lichtenstein

Workspace view featuring artwork by Roy Lichtenstein

Image courtesy of The Craft, Designed by Architect Raz Melamed.

Pop Art in the Workspace

Adding pop art to an office or workspace can instantly liven the mood and create a positive atmosphere within the room. As works of the genre tend to emphasize the element of color, infusing pop art into an office setting can be just the way to bring a sense of character into the space, and uplift spirits. The boldness of pop art pieces can enhance any workplace, and adding an accented work into a room will certainly grab anyone's attention. Hanging pop artworks that are part of a series or set can be a great way to evoke a sense of balance, seriality, and unity in the working environment. 


Pop Art Artists and Artworks

In order to truly understand the movement, here are some examples of famous pop art paintings, collages, and screenprints:

Robert Indiana, LOVE, 1965

Robert Indiana, LOVE, 1965.

Image courtesy of Bonhams

Andy Warhol, Liz, 1964.

Andy Warhol, Liz, 1964. 

Image courtesy of Christie's 

Roy Lichtenstein, Hopeless, 1963.

Roy Lichtenstein, Hopeless, 1963. 

Image courtesy Depositum der Peter ud Irene Ludwig Stiftung, Aachen

Keith Haring, Retrospect, 1989

Keith Haring, Retrospect, 1989.

Image courtesy of Christie's

Sir Peter Blake, Some of the sources of Pop art - 2

Sir Peter Blake, Some of the sources of Pop art - 2

Image courtesy of Christie's

Robert Rauschenberg, Retroactive I, 1963.

Robert Rauschenberg, Retroactive I, 1963.

Image courtesy of Robert Rauschenberg Foundation. 


Pop Art on The Artling

While it may not be possible for everyone to own a masterpiece, you can still own original pop art artwork from the finest contemporary artists from all over the world on the Artling:

jun

Jun - Chamnan Chongpaiboon (Available on The Artling)

botan

Botan - Chamnan Chongpaiboon (Available on The Artling)

burst

Burst - Tetsuya Fukushima (Available on The Artling)

smokestack

Smokestack - Tetsuya Fukushima (Available on The Artling)

new-world-20

New World 20 - PHUNK (Available on The Artling)

love-summer

L.O.V.E (Summer) - PHUNK (Available on The Artling)

062015

062015 - Shin-young Park (Available on The Artling)

heritage-remix-04

Heritage Remix #04 - Shin-young Park (Available on The Artling)

and-then-and-then-and-then-and-then-and-then-yellow
And then and then and then and then and then (Yellow) - Takashi Murakami (Available on The Artling)


    i-do-not-know-i-know

    I Do Not Know. I Know. - Takashi Murakami (Available on The Artling)

    silaturahmi-gorilla-glass

    Silaturahmi Gorilla Glass - Hendra 'Hehe' Harsono (Available on The Artling)

    capital-noise-head

    Capital Noise Head - Hendra 'Hehe' Harsono (Available on The Artling)

    destroy-the-four-olds-ii

    Destroy The Four Olds II - Jacky Tsai (Available on The Artling)

    broken-childhood-dream-david

    Broken Childhood Dream - David - Jacky Tsai (Available on The Artling)

    2019np-no6

    2019.NP. No.6 - Wang Jianuo (Available on The Artling)

    2019np-no-5

    2019.NP. No. 5 - Wang Jianuo (Available on The Artling)

    We hope you enjoyed this art collector's guide to buying pop art. If you are keen on adding a pop art piece to your art collection, you can browse our curated collection of pop artworks. If you need additional assistance or have a specific requirement, you can chat with our expert art curators here.


    Any views or opinions in the post are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the company or contributors.



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