Category Archives: popart

Famous Pop Art Paintings

The pop art movement is something that can be easily identified even though there are no strict definitions as to what a pop art should look like. There are groups whose efforts somehow help sustain the presence of pop art at present, even in the midst digital art and memes. If you are still unfamiliar with how pop art looks like, go over the following famous pop art paintings below.

Flag by Jasper Johns

Flag by Jasper Johns

This encaustic painting was created when Johns was around 24 years old, roughly two years after he came out of the US Army. It is arguably his most famous work. Measuring over a meter in length and around a meter and a half in width, this creation shows the three colors of the flag and 48 white stars (sans Alaska and Hawaii since this was created between 1954-1955). What’s unique about this work is the ambiguity of whether it is a painting of a flag or a painted flag. Johns claims that it is both. The Flag was created using oil paint, encaustic, and newsprint on three separate canvasses. It was among John’s first solo exhibition at the Leo Castelli Gallery in the year 1958.

Still Life #30 by Tom Wesselmann

Still Life by Tom Wesselmann

Still Life #30 is one of the series of mixed media creations of Tom Wesselmann, an American artist associated with pop art. It was created using a combination of painting, sculpture and collage. The collage component of this work is actually made of commercial labels found by Wesselmann on the streets. It features a portrait of President Abraham Lincoln, a red star, television set, and fruits and a pair of wine bottles on a table with blue and white stripes. This work is unmistakably American with its theme and colors.

Campbell’s Soup Cans by Andy Warhol

Campbell’s Soup Cans by Andy Warhol

Also known as 32 Campbell’s Soup Cans, this work by Warhol is currently displayed at the Museum of Modern Art consisting of 32 canvases, It was created using synthetic polymer paint on canvas – one canvas for each can. The painting process used is referred to as a mechanized screen printing process that uses a non-painterly style. With the obvious canned soup subject, this work shouts pop art through and through. At the time this work was released, it initially offended art critics mainly for its commercialism and its apparent intention to insult the philosophy of abstract expressionism.

Three Machines by Wayne Thiebaud

Three Machines by Wayne Thiebaud

Now displayed at De Young Museum, this oil on canvas work exemplifies Thiebaud’s inclination to painting food and sweets in rows using bright colors, as influenced by his experience in working at cake and bread shops during his younger years. It is said that he loved seeing delicious food lined up neatly and perfectly in rows. Three Machines is a painting of three fully loaded gumball machines.

Drowning Girl by Roy Lichtenstein

Drowning Girl by Roy Lichtenstein

Drowning Girl is regarded as one of the foundations of Roy Lichtenstein’s art works. It is also known as “Sacred Hearts” and “I Don’t Care I’d Rather Sink.” Despite looking like a comic page (with the thought bubble and illustration style), this was actually created using oil and synthetic polymer. It is also not comic-sized as its length and width measure 171.6 cm and 169.5 cm respectively. Some have criticized Lichtenstein for doing this kind of work as they mentioned how the artist appears to have just merely copied already existing original work, without even providing attributions or corresponding compensation to the original comic book artists.

Marilyn Diptych by Andy Warhol

Marilyn Diptych by Andy Warhol

This is a silk screen painting using acrylic on canvas created some weeks after Marilyn Monroe died. It features 50 images of Monroe, all based on one publicity photograph for the 1953 movie Niagara. In the painting, 25 of the images on the left side are brightly colored while the other half to the right are in monochrome. This has been interpreted as a reflection of Marilyn Monroe’s life and death. This painting, according to an article in The Guardian, is said to be the third most influential piece of modern art (based on a survey of 500 artists and art critics).

Pop Art: Art of Popular Culture

Pop art, for those who are new to the term, may somehow be inferred as the art equivalent of pop culture or pop music. It is an art movement that began in the mid-50s in Britain. It was later on adopted by Americans in the later part of the 50s. For some, it is regarded as an art movement that brought back realism to avant-garde art. It is like an effort to counter the perceived seriousness of abstract expressionism. It aimed to show repudiation to the “elitist” ideas of what art should be.

History and Development

Pop art is said to have emerged as a reaction to the dominant idea that art is nonrepresentational and is mainly improvisational. Not many artists were keen to simply following what other established artists were already doing. It aimed to restore representational art by featuring works that show parody, irony, reality, and the mundane. There are those who say that it is both an extension and rejection of Dadaism or the art movement that was founded on irrationality and the negation of accepted standards of beauty.

The Independent Group, an organization established in London, is widely considered as the precursor of the pop art movement. This group of various artists wanted to challenge prevailing modernist approaches to culture and the traditional standards of what is regarded as fine art. The group held regular discussions focusing on popular culture implications. Later on, the Independent Group centered on pop art that mainly features imagery of American popular culture, yes, despite the fact that the British originated pop art, most of current form of this is actually based on American pop culture.

In the United States, the term “pop art” was officially used in the event “Symposium on Pop Art,” which was organized by the Museum of Modern Art. By the time pop art became popular in the United States, mass advertising already became more sophisticated and the artists supporting it had to look for deeper and dramatic styles distinct from the already well-designed and clever advertising materials.

Notable Definitions and Descriptions

Lawrence Alloway, an art critic thought to be the first to use the term in print, opined that pop art as the lower end of a popular art to fine art continuum, covering such forms as advertising, illustration for sci-fi works, and automobile styling. On the other hand, Richard William Hamilton, the man regarded as the Father of British Pop Art, defined this form of art as something popular or designed for the mass audience, transient or short-term in nature, mass-produced and low-cost, expendable and easily forgotten, intended for young audiences, witty, and gimmicky. Today, pop art is broadly defined as a form of art that represents everyday life using techniques or styles employed in commercial art and popular illustration.

There is no organization that sets the parameters as to what can be considered as pop art. There are many organizations worldwide devoted to this form of art but setting the standards of what should be classified or categorized as such has not been achieved yet. There is even no clear consensus whether or not pop art is still alive at present. The Art Story Foundation, for instance, considers pop art to have started in the mid 50’s and ended in the early 70’s.

What Pop Art is About

Pop art is basically art that copies the techniques employed in commercial art and the styles of pop culture and other imagery depicted by mass media. It is all about everyday life and the depiction of mundane objects and scenes. It can be said that it is a way of bringing art closer to the masses.

This kind of art typically involves “found objects,” advertising materials, comic books, pop culture ephemera, and everyday materials. Sometimes, creating pop art means taking a material away from its known context and combined with other materials to create an entirely different work that evokes a reaction different from what most would give to a traditional artwork.

It is safe to say that pop art is notably distinct from typical visual art most would have in mind. The techniques and styles used are hardly similar. To the classically trained artist, pop art would even be regarded as something even inferior to an amateur’s work. Many would view them as “artless” montages and agglutinations. The earlier works that were considered as pop or popular art had very prominent attributes of advertising propaganda, comics, and product packaging.

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