You can’t not know what Pop Art is. I mean –you can, but if you saw pop art you’d definitely recognize it. And that’s very much the intention of the movement –to be popular. Not to become popular, but to already exist as something popular. How can this be? Pop Art as a movement creates a mirror for popular culture –it’s things like Campbell soup cans, Wonder Woman, and large balloon animals. Pop artists have faced critiques of originality from the movement’s inception; however, one look at these artworks and you won’t be able to deny their creativity.
Pop art arose in the 1950s as a reactionary art movement to abstract expressionism. Abstract Expressionism concerned itself with the subconscious or the spiritual; it was spontaneous, automatic, and had great emotional intensity. The point was to avoid the artistic censorship that occurred after World War II (and all the political propaganda “art” that came with it) by creating art with abstract or neutral subject matter –think Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko.
Pop Artists entered the art scene in an attempt to lighten the mood from the intensity of this genre by reverting to the everyday realities of popular culture. They emphasized the banal, kitschy, even the cheap elements of society –employed in an almost satirical or ironic reaction to the art of the times. Things you’d normally see in comic books, advertisements, and every day mundane (albeit cultural) objects appeared in compositions whose creators called them “art”. And by the 1960’s, “Pop Art”, as it came to be known, was ready to change the world. Artists such as Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol dominated the art scene. But it wasn’t just an art-movement, it was an ideology; it was a lifestyle
In the 1980s Pop art had a resurgence known as “Neo-Pop”. Like the Pop art of the 60’s it was confrontational and irreverent and witty. The Pop aesthetic never really went away and can be seen today in street graffiti, comic books, photo montage, and large-scale sculpture. The movement remains relevant today because people are drawn to the objectivity of these artworks. Pop culture motifs give viewers a feeling of inclusion or belonging –the artwork has an immediate personal significance.
Were they trying to make a socio-political statement? A critique of society? Or were they finding real beauty in Campbell’s Soup cans? Maybe they just saw everyday objects artistically?
Images by: https://www.themodern.org/blog/Contemporary-Pop-Art/343 & https://mymodernmet.com/what-is-contemporary-art-definition/