If there’s a single cultural movement that represents the American identity in its purest form, then it’s pop art. Emerged as the reaction to the abstract expressionism, which shaped the art scene from after the World War II to 1960s, pop art movement introduced a new way of merging the world of art and everyday life. It wasn’t academic, and it wasn’t vague – it was direct and graphics in the intention to make fun of cultural stereotypes and set the scene for opening the boundaries between art and life.
The brief history of pop art
Although it was predominantly related to the American art of the 1960s, pop art movement originated in the UK. Despite the similar approaches to the aesthetic concept of pop art, the artists in the UK still maintained the close relationship with the academic world. Even though one can find irony in their pop art pieces, the effect wasn’t as subversive as in the case of the US pop art movement.
Artists in the US recognized the need for the return to the representational imagery. Tired of the academic rigidity of abstract expressionism, the new generation of artists – such as Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg, to mention the most famous ones – started to seek the simplicity in the representation of objects. However, their approach was radical in the sense that they erased any emotional meaning for the objects they choose. Instead of creating a powerful representation, they followed hard-core composition and combined it with the objectivity and consumerism.
The way pop art works
The basic premise of the pop art is making life facts an integral part of the arts. Pop art movement marks the return to the objective reality in a way that’s unprecedented to this day. The artists of this movement explored the idea of banalizing art through the representation of everyday objects in their pure form.
The interesting part of the way pop artworks is the choice of the objects that are represented in the paintings. Unlike the most art movements, pop art created an entirely new way of understanding the art by implementing objects like cans, industrial waste, or even toilets in their works.
The primary artistic technique used in the pop art is a reproduction – one object (a model) is reproduced in the same pattern but with slight variations in colors.
The design can be seen in Andy Warhol’s “Marylin Diptych,” the image of Marylin Monro.
After Johns and Rauschenberg, the number of artists marked the most fruitful period of pop art. The most famous one included Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, Tom Wesselmann, and Claes Oldenburg.
Roy Lichtenstein’s most famous piece is “Drowning Girl,” an ironic representation of a female character about men. The bold lines and vibrant colors made the aesthetics of pop art movement thick, and Lichtenstein’s approach is resembling those aesthetics in the best possible way.
Andy Warhol is among the most famous and most genius pop artists in the world. His aspiring ideas were aiming to completely erase the gap between arts and life, making a new form of an art piece.
Tom Wesselmann was involved in the first pop art exhibitions in the early 1960s. Besides that, he was one of the founders of the new art form called “happening,” which was very popular in the same period as pop art.
Claes Oldenburg was also involved with group exhibitions and performance art, contributing to the new wave of art in the early to late 1960s.