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Pop Art
Pop Art

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The artistic revolution that began first in the U.K and later in the U.S, in the mid 1950's, and was established in the 60's. This was commercial art making its debut into the world of fine art, the use of popular [hence the name] themes and icons from mass media and advertising. Much of Pop Art came about as an act of rebelliousness against the pompous seriousness of the Abstract Expressionists, though that group was an essential link to the birth of Pop. It was the Expressionists that charged with them with the understanding that art is limitless in its possibilities, that technical effects can create radically effective images- though the Pop artists were figurative and literal, using the most easily identifiable , graphic illustrations. Colors are clean and sharply defined; the subject-matter is hum-drum and ordinary, taken from comic books, food wrappings, merchandise marketing and ads. The colors are brightly artificial and fluorescent; many of the works have a glossy hard finish.

The British Pop scene came about with The Independent Group and their break from the depressing post World War II gloom. This style celebrated an American brand of materialism in a time where most of Britain was still on food rations. British Pop was a consciously vulgar style; it utterly outflanked the pastoral romantic style of painting that had sprung up in the 40's.

Richard Hamilton and Eduardo Paolozzi were the two most prominent names in the scene. They both chose to deal with the potentially endless possibilities for visual images that could be borrowed from all the images around us, rather than building a structured method to the artistic process. They dealt with the inexpensive, mass produced articles of life; the fleeting, the flashy and the sexy. Anything that caught the eye had artistic potential and could be mixed up to create even more images.

After Paolozzi and Hamilton came other artists; Richard Smith made huge cardboard sculptures of cigarette packets in homage to the iconic images of the culture and Ronald Kitaj would take a selection of comic strips, mythological figures and cuttings from scientific magazines- and cut them into pieces, jumbling them together, painting over them. David Hockney became famous for his directly graphic style; the figures are utterly static, in reference to the graphic style of the advertisements so prevalent at the time, the cultural motifs that we have all become so expert in dissimilating. Patrick Caulfield made schematic sketches of images taken from cheap magazines and fashion journals.

The main instigators of the style are the American artists Jasper Johnes and Robert Rauschenberg with their determined return to figurative painting. Johns' early works are both literal and illusionary; he would paint whole series of everyday objects and appliances, giving each rendition symbolic meaning- the most famous being his series of American flags [1955-1958]. Johns recreated these objects with such accuracy that they almost fooled the eye- a strange version of Duchamp's ready-mades. While Duchamp took actual objects and turned them into art, Johns took the idea behind the object, and recreated the object itself. Rauschenberg's early works were mostly combine-paintings [collages and montages of mixed media] and in the mid 50's moved on to use of ready-made. In the 60's he returned to painting and silk prints without abandoning his love for mixing various materials together.

Some other famous names of the style are of course Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol. Lichtenstein used the celebrated ideals of media and popular films as his subject matter; - most often he would replicate and magnify enormously scenes from comic strips. Warhol challenged the traditional place of craftsmanship in art, that all-important personal signature of the artist in his work. An artists craft was deemed his one claim to originality, the individuality of his work. Warhol used mechanical processes that allowed him endless repetitions of one single work. He employed a small army of assistants to help him print a single image again and again, distancing his place as the artist from the artistic process, glorifying famous actresses and coca cola bottles with the same fanatical reverence.


Found 13 art galleries where you can explore and buy art.

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 eyestorm , London, UKOnline Gallery 
 A Picture of Britain Online Gallery 
 artgallery.co.uk , Surrey, UKOnline Gallery 
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 Hampel-Auctions.com  , Munich, Germany 
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 Chicago Contemporary Art Online Gallery 
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 represent arte , Barcelona , SpainOnline Gallery 
 Studio 68 - Section 6 Online Gallery 


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