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The Rise of Pop Art Movement
Photo 158492452 © Aperturesound |

The Rise of Pop Art Movement 

“The Pop artists did images that anybody walking down Broadway could recognize in a split second – comics, picnic tables, men’s trousers, celebrities, shower curtains, refrigerators, Coke bottles – all the great modern things that the Abstract Expressionists tried so hard not to notice at all.”

Andy Warhol


The term “Pop Art” was coined in 1955 by British curator Lawrence Alloway to describe a new form of art characterized by the imagery of consumerism, new media, and mass reproduction; in a nutshell: popular culture. Pop Art was one of the first art movements to bridge the gap between commercial and fine arts by using bold, simple, everyday imagery and vibrant block colors.

Pop Art artists drew inspiration for their humorous, witty, and ironic works from advertising, pulp magazines, billboards, movies, television, comic strips, and shop windows, which can be seen as both a celebration and a critique of popular culture. But how did Pop Art come to be, who were the key figures, and what were their artistic goals?

Andy Warhol
Photo 60692138 / Andy Warhol © Legacy1995 |

Pop Art’s Beginnings

Despite being widely associated with the United States, Pop Art found an early voice in Britain as a critical and ironic reflection on the late 1950s postwar consumer culture.

In 1952, in Britain, a group of artists, writers, and critics known as the ‘Independent Group’ – or simply ‘IG’ – began to meet on a regular basis, motivated by a shared perception of a gap between art and life at the time to discuss new concepts and approaches to include in artistic practice those aspects of visual culture that weren’t traditionally part of it but had inevitably become elements of everyday life, from product packaging to cinema celebrities.

In the United States of America, Pop Art emerged in those same years as a reaction to the dominant artistic movement, Abstract Expressionism. Pop Art allowed artists to bring back fragments of reality into art through images and combinations of common, everyday objects, breaking the idea that art is the individual expression of an artist’s ingenuity.

Despite being heavily influenced by American popular culture, British Pop Art was a rather mischievous and ironic interpretation of what American popular imagery represented and how it tampered with people’s lives and lifestyles.

Pop Art, on the other hand, intended to return representation for American artists: hard edges, clear forms, and recognizable subject matter replaced the Abstract Expressionists’ loose abstraction and symbolism.

Famous Pop Art Artists

  • Sir Peter Blake (b. 1932)
  •  Patrick Caulfield (1936-2006)
  •  Richard Hamilton (b. 1922)
  • David Hockney (b. 1937)
  • and Allen Jones were among the most prominent British Pop Art artists (b. 1937).


Famous Pop Art exponents in American Art 

  • Robert Rauschenberg (1925-2008), 
  • Jasper Johns (b. 1930)
  • Roy Lichtenstein (1923-97)
  •  and Andy Warhol (1928-87). 
  • Jim Dine (b. 1935)
  • Robert Indiana (aka John Clark) (b. 1928)
  •  Ray Johnson (1927-95)
  • Alex Katz (b. 1927)
  • Claes Oldenburg (b. 1929)
  • Ed Ruscha (b. 1937)
  •  James Rosenquist (b. 1933-2017)
  •  and Tom Wesselmann were among the other American exponents (b. 1931).

The most famous Pop Art Works

  • Just What Is It (1956) by Richard Hamilton.
  • Drowning Girl (1962) Roy Lichtenstein.
  • A Bigger Splash (1967) David Hockney.
  • Flag (1955) Jasper Johns.
  • Whaam! (1963) Roy Lichtenstein
  • Campbell’s Soup Can (1962) (Tomato) Andy Warhol.
  • Marilyn Diptych (1962) Andy Warhol.

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