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Art Movement in Focus : What is Pop Art

What is Pop Art

Welcome to Art Movement in Focus! In this section, we explore significant art movements in history, through a series of articles dedicated to each movement. Here’s looking at What is Pop Art.

Defining Pop Art 

According to the Tate :

“Pop art is an art movement that emerged in the 1950s and flourished in the 1960s in America and Britain, drawing inspiration from sources in popular and commercial culture. Different cultures and countries contributed to the movement during the 1960s and 70s.”

Pop Art came about in Post World War II in Britain and America. In the era of mass production and the assembly line, Pop Art simply mirrored the society of the mid 20th century. The world, its people and economies recuperated from the disastrous war, new factories and infrastructure was set up to quickly cover up the damage of the recent past. As mass consumption was on the rise and homogenous production was the order of the day, the influence of these phenomena was echoed in the art world too.

Influence of Popular Culture and Mass Imagery

Pop art charateristically borrows imagery and iconography from popular culture and mass media. Advertising, consumerism, Hollywood and the celebrity provided the movement adequate fodder. Unlike any other art movement preceding it, Pop art took ‘low imagery’ and turned it into ‘high art.’

What’s more is that oftentimes, the Pop artist didn’t even create the work in the traditional sense. Andy Warhol’s silkscreen printing method is the perfect example of this. Warhol would simply borrow images from the media and screen print them onto canvas. With his method, Warhol questioned the integrity of both the artist and his creative process.

Pop Art is by definition kitschy, often rooted in pastiche or sometimes parody. To quote Jim Dine :

“Pop is everything art hasn’t been for the last two decades. It’s basically a U-turn back to a representational visual communication, moving at a break-away speed…Pop is a re-enlistment in the world…It is the American Dream, optimistic, generous and naïve.”


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