What is Pop Art?

what is pop art

Modern pop art is one of the coolest and trendiest art eras of our lifetime. It challenged ideas of what art should be and revolted at tradition. Pop art was aimed at reflecting the culture of our everyday lives and that made it more relatable than other forms. This genre takes inspiration from ordinary objects, the news, and famous figures. Here is everything you need to know about pop art history and its influence today!

Pop Art Period

The Pop art movement began in the 1950s and continued to grow its wings in the 1960s. It originated in the United Kingdom and the USA.

Pop Art Definition

Stemming from the term “Popular Art” this art form is inspired by popular culture in society.

Pop Art Characteristics

pop art definition
  • bold
  • ordinary
  • youthful
  • transient
  • short-term
  • expendable
  • low-cost
  • mass production
  • witty
  • sexy
  • fun
  • big business
  • funny
  • glamour

Pop Art Colors

Color is extremely important in the context of this genre. Artists tend to apply colors with contrast that exude boldness. Anything from a fiery, hot pink, bright yellow, and electric blue. Often artists will apply the color pop where they want you to focus. For example, a yellow banana, red can, or a blue face.

Pop Art Artists

Andy Warhol

Andy Warhol is one of the most integral artists in pop art history. He was born in 1928 in Pennsylvania. His work is renowned and appreciated globally by both art critics and regular people. He is known for appropriating familiar objects, famous people, news, comic strips, and other consumer culture to create works of art. He began with pop art painting and soon turned to photo-silkscreen printmaking as his work gained momentum. This became his signature way of creating and made his work appear even more closely to advertisements. He died in 1987 in New York.

Richard Hamilton was born in 1992 in London, United Kingdom. Some people call him the Daddy of Pop Art, which speaks to his impact during this period as the generator of British pop art history. His most famous collage is considered the origin and manifesto of pop art itself. That’s a big deal. He is most famously known for his pop art collages and paintings. His work embodied his fascination with the ideal American lifestyle. He died in 2011.

Roy Lichtenstein was born in 1923 and died in 1997. His career began as a form of imitation until he developed his own niche approach in the world of pop art. He is known for his abstract style and the prevailing level of taste. His use of parody in his work made his pieces more compelling and relatable to the audience. Roy describes pop art as industrial painting as opposed to American painting. His most expensive piece is entitled “masterpiece” and it sold for a shocking 165 million dollars in 2017.

Famous Pop Art

Andy Warhol’s “Campbell Soup Cans”

Here are 5 of our favorite pieces from this Era!

  • Andy Warhol’s “Campbell Soup Cans” can be seen at MoMA in New York City today. It is made up of 32 cans and when it was first exhibited the canvases were displayed on shelves resembling a grocery store aisle. Each can represent a different Campbell soup flavor from that time period. This work is a comment on mass production. Warhol even mentioned that he used to drink their soups religiously, but that they all feel the same. This is reflected in the mundane collection of cans.
  • “Just what is it that makes today’s homes so different, so appealing?” is a work by Richard Hamilton. This unique college stands out among other pop artworks. The images were collected from American magazines, and they are arranged humorously to resemble a typical modern-sitting room from Life Magazine. Hamilton was commenting on consumerism. This piece is now home to the Kunsthalle Tübingen in Germany.
  • “Drowning Girl” was painted in 1963 by Roy Lichtenstein. He took inspiration from the original art by Tony Abruzzo to create this masterpiece. The text on the canvas says “I don’t care- I’d rather sink than call Brad for help!” coming from a woman wailing and floundering in the water. This painting is known for its melodrama and for finding the humor in anguish. This painting resembles comic art graphics and can be viewed at the MoMA along with Andy’s Cans.
  • Another acclaimed work by Roy is “Whaam!” It is another comic-like painting, and it uses bright colors and text to make a statement. Depicted is an intense battle that almost makes fun of intense classic battle scene paintings of previous era’s. It is now home to the Tate Modern Museum in London, UK.
  • Back to Andy, another one of his most beloved works is “Brillo Box.” It was created in 1964 and this work has sparked various opinions on whether these famous boxes are indeed art or not. It is showcased in the National Gallery of Canada today.

How to Make Pop Art

pop art painting

There are no wrong answers when it comes to art-making but if you are yearning for inspiration here are a few tips for making pop art. Consider using symbols of consumption like material objects – this will immediately trigger this genre. Also, incorporate celebrity faces where you can.

Consider adding a cheeky or controversial headline from the news or other media to spice up your piece. In terms of layout, try using repetition, collating, or distorting images with effects. Remember pops art colors are key in this style, so get bold. Choose one or two of these themes, no more, and you may lose focus. Once you have your ideas, you can decide to create your pop art in digital or printed form. Have fun and get ready to make the ordinary amazing! And who knows, maybe you’ll be the next famous contemporary pop art maker.

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