The term Pop art first appeared in a 1958 article written by British critic Lawrence Alloway, which described the influence of mass media on the arts. Pop art, the phenomenon, became huge in the 1960s, but the blending of media and... [more]
The term Pop art first appeared in a 1958 article written by British critic Lawrence Alloway, which described the influence of mass media on the arts. Pop art, the phenomenon, became huge in the 1960s, but the blending of media and art was already happening in 1950s. Richard Hamilton's famous piece "What Is It That Makes Today's Home So Different, So Appealing?" is a collage of pictures of mass-produced products such as Tootsie Pops and canned ham, composed with images from comic books and television to create a media-saturated domestic scene.
London was ground zero for Pop art, and it didn't take hold of the American consciousness until a 1962 show, "The New Realists", was mounted at New York's Sidney Janis Gallery. Precedents for Pop include Dada's interest in consumer objects, Stuart Davis' use of Lucky Strike wrappers in his work from the 1920s, and Jasper John's 1950s experiments with cultural signs such as the American flag. With all of these images fresh in their minds, artists Andy Warhol, Claes Oldenburg, Roy Lichtenstein, and Tom Wesselmann set out to celebrate the mundane. Their work was a complete affront to the art world because it dragged the most quotidian objects into the sacrosanct space of the gallery.
Oldenburg built huge sculptures of paper clips, clothes hangers, and buttons, while Lichtenstein poked fun at the interchangeable realities of life in comic books and life in 1960s America. Warhol, however, was the one who truly stretched Pop to its limits. He completely blurred the distinction between high and low art by building himself a mass-production art factory and by having the audacity to churn out art with a crew of assistants. Warhol's infamous Campbell's soup cans were the basest, most recognizable items of American daily life, and he threw them in the face of the art world and the American public, daring them to resist. [show less]