Movement Pop Art

After the atrocities of the Second World War, countries such as the US, UK and France began welcoming consumer culture and a more materialistic approach to life. Popular culture began to reject traditional cultural codes, and embraced instead, mass-production and industry.

Unbeknownst to many, Pop art actually began in the UK, where the term “Pop" was coined in 1954 by Lawrence Alloway, a British art critic. Alloway founded a group of intellectuals called the “Independent Group" which included artists such as Richard Hamilton and Eduardo Paolozzi and the critics Lawrence Alloway and John McHale. These creatives and intellects sought to separate popular culture from the elitist bubble that surrounded it. They utilised American popular culture elements to reject traditional art techniques; blurring the boundary between high art and mass-culture.

Criticising society's infatuation with cultural hierarchy is a crucial component of the movement: Pop artists want to change our one-dimensional manner of seeing and thinking. Our ideas and perceptions are shaped by the images that surround us, and we often find ourselves placing differing levels of importance on certain images.  Pop art blurs the boundaries between "high" art and "low" culture, demonstrating that there is no hierarchy of culture, and art can be created from any source. As a result, artists like Andy Warhol, employed images of pop-culture icons like Marilyn Monroe, in his works. Pop artists were the first artists to realise our impulsive need to be connected, which nowadays has become literal through social media and the internet. The Pop artists successfully predicted how everything would be interconnected, drawing these links in their artworks.

New York quickly became the hub of Pop art, opening its doors to artists such as Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, James Rosenquist, and Claes Oldenburg. This led to a distinction between American and British Pop art, where American Pop art absorbed entertainment culture and consumerism producing highly stylistic and garish works, whilst British Pop art remained more distanced and light-hearted. 

Andy Warhol: the artist famously claimed that “in the future everyone will be world famous for 15 minutes," successfully predicting the merging of media, art and business which we see today. His fascination with mass media and American advertising made him into a gifted creative, allowing him to transcend the boundaries of art and industry. 

Roy Lichtenstein: the first American Pop artist to achieve global fame. Lichtenstein was heavily inspired by comics, and combined hand-drawn elements with mechanical reproductions of objects to create highly recognisable works. 

James Rosenquist: the American artist combined contrasting images from adverts, creating monumental works which often took up entire walls of galleries. These shocking and supposedly unconnected images were intended to convey Rosenquist's anxieties about America's political and social climate.  

Claes Oldenburg: the artist's “soft-sculptures" were the first examples of sculpture in Pop art, and served to depict the unappetising and grimy corners of New York.  

Avid observers of consumer society, the Pop artists continue to inspire contemporary artists today. Discover artists such as Angelo Pioppo, DLGR and Dominique Mulhem, who were influenced by the revolutionary Pop art movement.

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