Pop Art

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Pop Art is full of visual images and techniques of popular culture blended with consumerism. The process weaves an engrossment of fascination with consumer goods and the appropriation of jovial pictures. The term and idea of culture are often thought to be very static and obscure. Culture is the fame of the future as it relates to how we live our lives as human beings. Society is replete with multiple cultures and individuals who affect it. Belief systems, values and the effect of each of these all have embodied popular art at one point in time.

Pop Art Defined

Pop Art was essentially the art of culture. It was the movement that embodied the elements of optimism during the 1950s and 1960s. One of the pivotal aspects of the Pop Art movement was the globalization of popular music and youth, personified by Elvis, the Beatles and other innovative artists around that time who were seen as brash, fun and hostile to the conventional establishment. This is what makes this art genre controversial. Pop Art encompassed a multiplicity of different styles of painting and sculpture from a plethora of countries and the common denominator between them all was mass-media. Within popular culture is the visual aesthetics or visual culture that is its undercurrent. It is what gives Pop Art the pizzazz.

The classification of visual culture deals specifically with mass media such as television, cinema, music videos, advertisements creating and fostering a proverbial mental picture of life. Much of visual arts are created from illustration mores. Traditionally speaking, Pop Art style and the artists that use it intended to make overt statements about the world of art and its comparative stratification between high and low. From years past, high art has referred to Western forms of art, while low art has been a mishmash of structures and images of folk. In the 1960s, visual culture rejuvenated itself into high art; thereby testing the world of art to investigate the boundaries of what was challenging and diverse. The crux of Pop Art is to make connections with the viewer of the artwork. The artist has created certain techniques and wants to illuminate them. Each piece that is created has a background that deems examination and understanding. Within the world of Pop Art exists many different styles including British Pop Art, American Pop Art, Pop Art with Comic Strips, and the work of cubism made famous by Andy Warhol.

British Pop Art

In the 1950s, many British artists viewed America as free land and thus embraced the collective influences of mass media in order to make up for the class-ridden enterprise. Pop Art, in effect, became their mode of appearance as they searched out alteration. British Pop artists adopted visual techniques that sought to challenge older generations. "One particular piece was a collage by Richard Hamilton, entitled 'Just What Is It That Makes Today's Homes So Different, So Appealing?' which was a catalogue of comics, newspapers, advertising, cars, food, packaging, appliances, celebrity, sex, the space age, television and the movies. This exhibited an understanding of what culture is and inspired many young British artists to follow such as Peter Blake, Allen Jones, Derek Boshier and R.B. Kitaj." British Pop Art is often considered to be a mixture of societal norms and media submerged in inspiration.

American Pop Art

Instead of a response to the institution, American Pop Art evolved as an endeavor to quash the pensive trends that were familiar in Abstract Expressionist paintings. Artists sought to pull art back from the murkiness of abstraction into the popular culture, or rather the real world. This framework would become noteworthy for many artists such as Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg. The early work of Jasper Johns often questioned how individuals professed art, distinguishing between the theme and the entity of his work and life for that matter. Johns' paintings underscored that art should be viewed as a chimera but as an object with its own actuality. Many of Johns' artwork consisted of bottle racks and bicycle wheels which he believed challenged the customary perspective of what objects in the art should be. Some of his paintings also incorporated common signs that were alluring as well as numbers and letters. Johns painted in encaustic, which was a detailed style of the medium that fused stain with hot wax. This, he noted, was to create seductiveness to the illustrations. One of the more prominent artists of American Pop Art was Robert Rauschenberg.

Robert Rauschenberg was both pivotal and central to the American Pop Art movement, perhaps because of his avant-garde depictions. He received much recognition for critics saw him as the prolific artists that were post-Abstract Expressionist. For art, Rauschenberg represents a characterization of ground-breaking and utopian as well as sweeping. Much of Rauschenberg's world is considered by critics to be modernist and sated with the appropriation of consumer culture (As Kruger and Levine have perfected). The innate lingo of Rauschenberg’s illustrations was collaged that spoke to the photographic silkscreen. For the most part, he consistently utilized images from television, magazines, and newspapers aiming to depict the human individual experience and provide a visual noise to the images. He hoped to establish a narrative with his pieces. , To create iconic images as experiments that would breathe life into both the conscious and subconscious of the viewer. Rauschenberg wanted to alter the perception of images and how they were traditionally interpreted.

Pop Art with Comic Strips

As Pop Art progressed and became even more expansive, one particular style was unveiled and rendered the visual lingua franca of mass communication. This was Pop Art with comic strips, which was a predetermined manner that incorporated black outlines, intrepid colors, and tones rendered by Benday dots. Benday dots are a precise modus operandi of printing tones in comic books from the 1950s and 60s. A well-known artist, Roy Lichtenstein explored the usage of comic strips in his art. His style offered a hard-edge technique that was a remedy to the splashes of Abstract Expressionism. There were elements of whimsical absurdity in his pieces. Historians have noted that Lichtenstein's work is the discipline of an artistic impulse that is cerebral. Lichtenstein's art was innovative, ingenious and had exceptional use of composition and depth. ,

A little known fact about Lichtenstein was that he did not "exactly copy his comic book images; he subtly refines them, conscious of their transformed appearance on a larger scale and aware of their aesthetic interpretation within the context of the museum. As his style developed he moved away from using the imagery of comics to interpreting modernist art styles, but still in his comic book vernacular. Lichtenstein was able to maintain this singular style for over thirty-five years, not simply by varying his subject matter, but by viewing his art as an independent entity with existence and development that he controlled." A discussion on Pop Art is simply not finished without mentioning Lichtenstein.

Cubism & Andy Warhol

Pop Art was personified with the creation of Cubism. Andy Warhol was one of the frontrunners in the banality of celebrity images and consumer products. Warhol embodied the spirit of what Pop Art was by forcing the audience to speculate on what his paintings meant. Through the use of cubism, a quirky public statement about art with deliberate and enigmatic presentations, Warhol became known for expressing his idea of skill and superb mechanics. For much of the early part of the early 1900s, Cubism had been restricted to private subjects, rather than public displays. Picasso had become famous for his usage of the artistic originality. A striking feature of Warhol was that he flavored each of his paintings with the usage of stencils and silk screening. Warhol has often been called the prevailing leader in the new art movement of his time and recognized for his abstract nature.

Pop Art Expression

The movement of Pop Art is considered to be incongruently making it difficult to ascertain in spite it contextual usage of culture as the backdrop. Pop Art offers a representational and often satirical response to the archaic impulses of society. Each artist evoked a device that was powerful on the human psyche and the labyrinth of art.

(Pop Art images omitted for preview. Available via download).

Bibliography

Galenson, David. "Analyzing Artistic Innovation: The Greatest Breakthrough of the Twentieth Century." Historical Methods 41, no. 3 (2008): 111-118.

Joseph, Branden. Random Order: Robert Rauschenberg and the Neo-Avant-Garde. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2003.

"Pop Art - the art of popular culture." free art lessons - teach yourself how to draw, paint and design. http://www.artyfactory.com/art_appreciation/art_movements/pop_art.htm (accessed April 19, 2013).

"The Roy Lichtenstein Foundation." The Roy Lichtenstein Foundation. http://www.lichtensteinfoundation.org/frames.htm (accessed April 19, 2013).

Taylor, Pamela, and Christine Ballengee-Morris. "Using Visual Culture to Put a Contemporary ‘Fizz’ on the Study of Pop Art." Art Education (2003): 20-24.