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Pop Art

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General Overview

Pop Art is art made from commercial items and cultural icons such as product labels, advertisements, and movie stars. In a way, Pop Art was a reaction to the seriousness of Abstract Expressionist Art. Pop Art is meant to be fun.

When was the Pop Art movement?

Pop Art began in the 1950s, but became very popular in the 1960s. It started in the United Kingdom, but became a true art movement in New York City with artists like Andy Warhol and Jasper Johns.

What are the characteristics of Pop Art?

Pop Art uses images and icons that are popular in the modern world. This includes famous celebrities like movie stars and rock stars, commercial items like soup cans and soft drinks, comic books, and any other items that are popular in the commercial world. There are a number of ways that artists use these items to create art such as repeating the item over and over again, changing the color or texture of the item, and putting different items together to make a picture.

Examples of Pop Art

Eight Elvises (Andy Warhol)

Eight Elvises uses a picture of Elvis Presley pulling a pistol out and aiming it at the viewer like a gunslinger from the Wild West. The picture of Elvis is repeated eight times. The repeating pictures get closer together as they move to the right and overlap each other giving the picture a feeling of infinity. This painting sold for over $100 million in 2009. You can see a picture of this painting here.

Drowning Girl (Roy Lichtenstein)

This painting is made to look like a scene from a comic book. The girl is drowning and she yells out "I don't care! I'd rather sink, than call Brad for help!" The artist even painted the picture with the dots that are often seen in the color areas on comic books. You can see a picture of this painting here.

Three Flags (Jasper Johns)

Jasper Johns painted a number of pictures of the American Flag. In this picture he paints three flags on top of each other. Each flag appears closer to the viewer, but gets smaller as well. You can see a picture of this painting here.

Famous Pop Art Artists
  • Keith Haring - This New York artist is famous for his cartoon like outlined pictures of people doing different things. His art was inspired by graffiti.
  • David Hockney - Hockney is considered one of the most important English artists of the 20th century. He played a major role in the development of Pop Art.
  • Jasper Johns - Jasper is most famous for his paintings of the American flag. He has also painted a map of the United States and another famous painting of just numbers called Numbers in Color.
  • Roy Lichtenstein - Roy is known for making art from the inspiration of comic books.
  • Wayne Thiebaud - Thiebaud became famous by painting items such as pies, cakes, lipstick, and toys. One of his most famous paintings is of three gumball machines called Three Machines.
  • Andy Warhol - Warhol is the most famous of the Pop Artists and played a major role in making the art movement popular. His painting of Campbell's Soup cans pushed Pop Art to the front of the art scene.
Interesting Facts about Pop Art
  • There is a similar sounding type of art called Op Art. Op Art is art that uses optical illusion to trick the eye.
  • Some people say that Pop Art is poking fun at traditional art and is most closely related to the nonsense art of Dadaism.
  • Pop Art artists wanted to make art for the masses. They felt that earlier art was elitist.
  • The first use of the word "pop" to describe art was by Scottish artist Eduardo Paolozzi. "Pop Art" was then used in 1954 by artist John McHale.
Pop Art

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