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. Pop Art (Beginning in 1956 in England, early 1960's USA)


Pop art is a visual art movement that emerged in the mid 1950s in Britain and in parallel in the late 1950s in the United States. The coinage of the term Pop Art is often credited to British art critic/curator, Lawrence Alloway in an essay titled The Arts and the Mass Media, but this is false - the term that he uses is "popular mass culture"

Nevertheless, Alloway was one of the leading critics to defend mass culture and Pop Art as a legitimate art form. Pop art is one of the major art movements of the twentieth century. Characterized by themes and techniques drawn from popular mass culture, such as advertising and comic books, pop art is widely interpreted as either a reaction to the then-dominant ideas of abstract expressionism or an expansion upon them. Pop art, like pop music, aimed to employ images of popular as opposed to elitist culture in art, emphasizing the banal or kitschy elements of any given culture. Pop art at times targeted a broad audience, and often claimed to do so.

Much of pop art is considered very academic, as the unconventional organizational practices used often make it difficult for some to comprehend. Pop art and minimalism are considered to be the last modern art movements and thus the precursors to postmodern art, or some of the earliest examples of postmodern art themselves.


In that it marked a return to sharp paintwork and representational art, pop art was a response to abstract expressionism.] However, it also was a continuation of certain aspects of abstract expressionism, such as a belief in the possibilities for art, especially for large-scale artwork. Similarly, pop art was both an extension and a repudiation of Dadaism. While pop art and Dadaism explored some of the same subjects, pop art replaced the destructive, satirical, and anarchic impulses of the Dada movement with detached affirmation of the artifacts of mass culture.

Pop art in the USA

Temporally, the British pop art movement predated the American; however, American pop art has its own origins separate from British pop art. During the 1920s American artists Gerald Murphy, Charles Demuth and Stuart Davis created paintings prefiguring the pop art movement that contained pop culture imagery such as mundane objects culled from American commercial products and advertising design.

Pop art in Spain

In Spain, the study of pop art is associated with the "new figurative." which arose from the roots of the crisis of informalism. Eduardo Arroyo could be said to fit within the pop art trend, on account of his interest in the environment, his critique of our media culture which incorporates icons of both mass media communication and the history of painting, and his scorn for nearly all established artistic styles. However, the Spaniard who could be considered the most authentically “pop” artist is Alfredo Alcaín, because of the use he makes of popular images and empty spaces in his compositions.

Also in the category of Spanish pop art is the “Chronicle Team” (El Equipo Crónica), which existed in Valencia between 1964 and 1981, formed by the artists Manolo Valdés and Rafael Solbes. Their movement can be characterized as pop because of its use of comics and publicity images and its simplification of images and photographic compositions.

Filmmaker Pedro Almodovar emerged from Madrid's "La Movida" subculture (1970s) making low budget super 8 pop art movies and was subsequently called the Andy Warhol of Spain by the media at the time. In the book "Almodovar on Almodovar" he is quoted saying that the 1950s film "Funny Face" is a central inspiration for his work. One pop trademark in Almodovar's films is that he always produces a fake commercial to be inserted into a scene.

Pop art in Japan

Pop art in Japan is unique and identifiable as Japanese because of the regular subjects and styles. Many Japanese pop artists take inspiration largely from anime, and sometimes ukiyo-e and traditional Japanese art. The best-known pop artist currently in Japan is Takashi Murakami, whose group of artists, Kaikai Kiki, is world-renowned for their own mass-produced but highly abstract and unique superflat art movement, a surrealist, post-modern movement whose inspiration comes mainly from anime and Japanese street culture, is mostly aimed at youth in Japan, and has made a large cultural impact. Some artists in Japan, like Yoshitomo Nara, are famous for their graffiti-inspired art, and some, such as Murakami, are famous for mass-produced plastic or polymer figurines. Many pop artists in Japan use surreal or obscene, shocking images in their art, taken from Japanese hentai. This element of the art catches the eye of viewers young and old, and is extremely thought-provoking, but is not taken as offensive in Japan. A common metaphor used in Japanese pop art is the innocence and vulnerability of children and youth. Artists like Nara and Aya Takano use children as a subject in almost all of their art. While Nara creates scenes of anger or rebellion through children, Takano communicates the innocence of children by portraying nude girls.


Pop Art (Beginning in 1956 in England, early 1960's USA) - Huntfor

Roy Lichtenstein: Visit our Studio Pop Art has started in England in late 50's and grown in United States in early 60's. Among the Pop Art forerunners are two unique models - prototypes of the modern artists: the French artist Marcel Duchamp and the German Kurt Schwitters. Duchamp's work and his thoughts have altered the definition of the art and our way of understanding it. He was famous with his "ready-mades," objects torn from their usual contexts and exhibited as art. Kurt Schwitters produced collages and assemblages that lay somewhere between painting and sculpture. The work of his art turned into an environment that was no longer something only to be looked at.
English art critic Lawrence Alloway used the term "Pop" first to describe the art that made use of the objects, materials and technologies from mass culture to bring out the yields of the industrial society. It is often borrowed from advertising, photography, comic strips and other mass media sources. Everyday life is endless resource for the pop art … today is the core of pop art.
Pop stresses frontal presentation and flatness of unmodulated and unmixed color bound by hard edges. They suggest the depersonalized processes of mass production. Pop Art investigates in areas of popular taste and kitsch previously considered outside the limits of fine art. It was rejecting the attributes associated with art as an expression of personality. Works were close enough to reality and at the same time it was clear that they were no ready-mades but artificial re-creations of real things.
Pop Art definitely broke the hegemony of the Abstract Expressionism in Europe and United States that occupied center art stage in 1950's-1960. It excreted the edges between high and low art. It confronted institutional art with everyday endless objects which gained, displayed as art, a new quality.
After the large-scale pop art exhibition at the Sidney Janis Gallery in New York in 1962, Pop Art established itself as a serious, recognized form of art. This exhibition becomes a turning point for Pop Art. According to a series of critics, Pop Art marked the end of modernism and the beginning of the postmodern era. Although Pop is rather treated as an entertainment, it had a profound impact on the art scene.
There are some differences between the Pop Art in England and United States.
British Pop was the product of the Independent Group (IG), formed in 1952 whose members resisted the institute's commitment to modernist art, design, and architecture. They were particularly intrigued by American automobile design, with its emphasis on "planned obsolescence," the intentional production of goods that would soon require replacement. British Pop artists had optimistic point of view. They preferably dealt with various forms of direct action - assemblages and happenings rather than comics or AD. In Britain popular culture and technology was just the subject of the popular art.
In America Pop artists reproduced, duplicated, combined, overlaid and arranged the endless visual details that make up American society, introducing shifts and transformations and acting like commentaries. The most famous American Pop artist, Andy Warhol specially had a lifelong interest in movie stars which first surfaced in his art in 1962 when he begun working on portraits of Marilyn Monroe. Warhole attempted to keep his personal fascination with fame from showing through too clearly in his works, preferring to leave their meaning open to the interpretation of viewers. The Pop and media role was summarized with Warhol's famous quotation:" In the future everybody will be world famous for fifteen minutes". Television, newspapers, magazines and Hollywood are just producing new images everyday. They are only enlarging the popular culture. Everything is just an image, ready to be consumed. The reality aura of art work is death, the millions copies are the survival of it.

Main Representatives

* Forerunners of Pop: Marcel Duchamp
* Kurt Schwitters

* In Britain: Eduardo Paolozzi
* Peter Blake
* Richard Hamilton
* Allan Jones
* Tom Phillips

* In America: Roy Lichtenstein
* Andy Warhol
* Claes Oldenburg
* Jasper Johns
* Tom Wesselmann
* Robert Rauschenberg






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