Pop Art Essay Research Paper West Hills

Pop Art Essay, Research Paper

West Hills Community College


Art Appreciation 52






1. Illustration 1 :Roy Lichtenstrin, Whamm!, Cover

2. Illustration 2 :Andy Warhol, Cambell Soup Can 6

3. Illustration 3 David Hockney, A Bigger Splash 7


Art in which everyday objects and subjects are depicted with the

flat naturalism of advertising or comic strips. 1.

Pop Art, visual arts movement of the 1950s and 1960s,

principally in the United States and Great Britain. The images of

pop art (shortened from popular art ) were taken from mass

culture. The term Pop Art was first by the critic Lawrence

Alloway to describe those paintings that celebrate post-war

consumerism, defy the psychology of Abstract Expressionism, and

worship the god of materialism.2 This was an art which had

natural appeal to American artists, living in the midst of the most

blatant and pervasive industrial and commercial environment. For

the American artist, once they realized the tremendous

possibilities of their everyday environment in the creation of new

subject matter, the result was generally more bold, aggressive,

even overpowering, than in the case of their European

counterparts. Some artists duplicated beer bottles, soup cans,

comic strips, road signs, and similar objects in paintings, collages,

and sculptures. Others incorporated the objects themselves into

their paintings or sculptures, sometimes in startlingly modified

form. Materials of modern technology, such as plastic, urethane

foam, and acrylic paint, often figured prominently. As opposed to

the junk sculptors, the assemblage artists who have created their

works from rubbish, the garbage, the refuge of modern industrial

society, the pop artists deal principally with the new, the

“store-bought,” the idealized vulgarity of advertising, of the

supermarket, and of television commercials. One of the most

important artistic movements of the 20th century, pop art not only

influenced the work of subsequent artists but also had an impact

on commercial, graphic, and fashion design.3

American Pop art was first of all a major reaction against

abstract expressionism which had dominated painting in the United

States during the later 1940s and 1950s. During the later 1950s

there were many indications that American painting would return to

a new kind of figuration, a new humanism. Pop art brought art back

to the material realities of everyday life, to popular culture in which

ordinary people derived most of their visual pleasure from

television, magazines, or comics.

The paintings of Lichtenstein, and Warhol, share not only

an attachment to the everyday, commonplace, or vulgar image of

the modern industrial America, but also the treatment of this image

in an impersonal, neutral manner. They do not comment on the

scene or attack it like social realist, nor do they exalt it like the ad

men. They seem to be saying simply that this is the world we live

in, this is the urban landscape, these are the symbols, the

interiors, the still lifes that make up our own lives.

Andy Warhol, (1928-1987)

One of the greatest Pop Artist or more well known as a

direct representation of pop culture is Andy Warhol. He was born

in 1928 and grew up during the depression and all the political

shenanigans it had to offer during his life time(WW2, Watergate,

Marilyn Monroe, etc.). Unfortunately his life ended in 1987, and

no longer can he offer a fundamental yet understandable view on

every day life. He choose objects from daily American life as well

the faces of entertainers and of others with household names as

subjects for his pop art work. It made no difference if his subject

was of a object or personality, they were an inherent part of

postwar American culture Warhol s work advertised familiar

aspects of post war America, yet according to him it did not intend

to hold any hidden meaning, nor was it intended to criticize; the

work of Andy Warhol was meant to simply express, in an

unpersonal manner, how he perceived the world around him.

His technique used to create his images was silk

screening(a mechanical process that allows images to be

repeatedly endlessly). This machine-like element of the

silk-screen technique depicted appropriately the industrialized

postwar American culture which he had witnessed. Warhol had

expressed it as a culture overburdened by disturbance that

seemed to be repeated and recreated. Warhol had choose

popular figures as subjects for an almost mass production of

images, in a sense, dedicating his work his work to the world

around him whose identity is comprised not only if these figures,

but of technological advancements as well. In spite of his claim

that he is completely detached from his work and that he and his

work are wholly on the surface, he did create some pieces which

seem to hold some type of deeper social commentary. For

example, He manipulated his original silk-screen technique to

create reverse images, to point more closely to the element of

disturbance in postwar American culture. Essentially they

illustrated what he perceived as the dark side of fame. Similarly

he seemed to comment on the intrusive nature of pop-culture

icons(i.e. Marilyn Monroe) in pieces such as Gold Marilyn, 1962.

Eventually, Warhol began to create self-portraits using both

his original silk-screening technique as well as his reverse

technique. this was an interesting choice of subject, and he may

have decided to create this series of self-portraits because he was

realizing his own role in pop culture. as an important pop artist,

Warhol himself became a representation of pop culture, and

therefore an appropriate subject for his own work, Like the other

troubled personalities depicted in his various series of reversals,

Warhol too encountered the hard ships of popularity. His

reversals of himself revealed the dark, troubled aspects of his

career as a popular artist.4,5

David Hockney, (1937- )

English painter, draftsman, photographer, and set designer,

known for his satirical paintings, his masterly prints and drawings,

and his penetrating portraits of contemporary personalities.

Technically, it is true to say that the Pop movement started with

Richard Hamilton and David Hockney in England. Hockney’s early

work made superb use of the popular magazine-style images on

which much of Pop Art is based. However, when Hockney moved to

California in the 1960s, he responded with such artistic depth to the

sea, sun, sky, young men, and luxury that his art took on a wholly

new, increasingly naturalistic dimension. His amazing success has

been based not only on the flair, wit, and versatility of his work, but

also on his colorful personality, which has made him a recognizable

figure even to people not particularly interested in art: His works

from the 1960s such as his series featuring Los Angeles swimming

pools and their denizens are painted in a bright and deliberately

naive style, and their subject matter is drawn from popular culture.

He has spent much of his time in the USA, and the Californian

swimming pool has been one of his favorite themes. A Bigger

Splash (1967, Tate Gallery, London) is one of his best-known

paintings. It is simplistic rather than a simplified view of the world, it

nevertheless creates a delightful interplay between the impassive

pink verticals of a Los Angeles setting and the overflow of spray as

the unseen diver enters the pool. There is no visible human

presence here, just that lonely, empty chair and a bare, almost

frozen world. Yet that wild white splash can only come from another

human, and a great deal of Hockney’s psyche is involved in the mix

of lucidity and confusion of this picture.6 Hockney’s wryness and wit

together with his talent for strong composition and design led him, at

the end of the 1960s, to a more naturalistic manner, particularly in

his portraits. His early paintings, often almost jokey in mood, gained

him a reputation of leading Pop artist, although he himself rejected

the label. In the late 1960s he turned to a weightier, more

traditionally representational manner, in which he has painted some

striking portraits (Mr. and Mrs. Clark and Percy, Tate, London,

1970-01). Although not fully realistic, these works painted in his

preferred style of flat acrylic paints and profuse finely drawn

lines provide sensitive, often heightened, representations of their

sitters. Hockney’s notable designs for operatic productions, for both

the Glyndebourne Opera in England and for New York City’s

Metropolitan Opera, have met with critical and popular favor. David

Hockney photographs (1982) is an exploration of the medium and a

partial record of his life. Composite Polaroid pictures, called joiners,

such as Henry Moore (1982), are another example of Hockney’s

photographic work.7


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