Pop Art was a movement that became symbolic of the mass consumerism, celebrity culture, and counterculture of the 1960s and 1970s. With enigmatic figures such as Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein, Pop Art proved to be a reflection of the formative decades that succeeded the Second World War.
With the Boomer generation now reaching an age of rebellion and experimentation, pop artists sought to fuse this youthful exuberance with the juxtaposing hegemonic practices of the time. Using culturally significant products and people, Pop Art highlighted just how ubiquitous brands and celebrities were becoming.
Singulart takes a look at the key figures that epitomized the Pop Art movement, while also giving a nod to the contemporary artists that are carrying the baton.
One of most enigmatic artists of the 20th century, Andy Warhol’s influence on art and culture is ubiquitous. The Pennsylvanian-born introvert spearheaded the Pop Art movement which mirrored the rampant celebrity and consumer culture. He shot to prominence with his appropriation of recognizable images: mass products (Campbell’s Soup), and personalities in the public domain (such as Marilyn Monroe, Mick Jagger, and Richard Nixon).
Born in New York City in 1923, Roy Lichtenstein came from the same artistic circle as Andy Warhol after the latter moved to the Big Apple in 1949. Widely remembered for his use of Ben Day dots, speech bubbles, and comic book imagery, Lichtenstein was masterful in his appropriation of styles and fonts found in the comic books that were prevalent in American culture. Notable works include Look Mickey! (1961) and Whaam! (1963).
Another New York resident for much of his life, Keith Haring rose to prominence in the 1980s, slightly after the initial wave of influential pop artists. A friend of Warhol’s, his circle of artistic friends included other talented NYC-based artists, such as Kenny Scharf and Jean-Michel Basquiat. Inspired by Warhol’s cerebral blend of life and art, Haring was committed to making public art. He developed a passion for street art, but incorporated a whimsical pop art design that became his trademark style and instantly recognizable as a Haring creation.
Singulart artist Kristin Kossi is a contemporary German painter whose works take after the pop art greats that have come before her. Including artworks that see Audrey Hepburn wearing a Chanel embroidered headpiece and an appropriated image of Edvard Munch’s Scream, Kossi combines humor and culture like all her predecessors.
Said to have anticipated the Pop Art movement, Robert Rauschenberg is best known for adopting non-traditional materials within his works. Referred to as ‘combines’, these creations would typically consist of objects such as Coca-Cola bottles, traffic barricades, and stuffed birds. His unorthodox approach and use of culturally significant items was certainly a precursor for the Pop Art movement that began to flourish.
Richard Hamilton was another predecessor of the movement. Born in London in 1922, the influential artist was known for more than just what he did on canvas. He was one one of the first figures to establish artists as an active consumer and contributor to mass culture as opposed to being separate from commerce. It was with this notion that artists began to look at the iconography from the commercial sector, which would have been considered lowbrow before. Artists that were to come from this generation started to immerse themselves in popular culture, from movies and music, to television and magazines.
Sophie COSTA is another Singulart artist who is channeling the energy and style of the greats. In her works, she is driven to reinterpret the everyday object, and combines collage, explosive colors, as well as handwritten and graphic writing with acrylic paint projections. Most notably, her COKE COKE is quintessentially pop art with its defacing of multiple Coca-Cola cans.
“I seek to give a touch to the eye, to recycle and enhance the everyday object, the material, the image with energy, colors, and positivity.“
Considered one of the most influential British artists of the 20th century, David Hockney and his artworks are hallmarks of the Pop Art movement. Born in 1937, the Bradford-born artist has resided in California for much of his life. This move would have a profound effect on what Hockney was producing as his new life of grandeur and hedonism was detectable through his artworks, which typically consisted of swimming pools, palm trees, and incessant sunshine. On 15 November 2018, Hockney’s 1972 work Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures) sold at Christie’s auction house in New York City for $90 million (£70 million).
Contemporary artist Takashi Murakami is lauded for blurring the line between lowbrow and highbrow art. His pieces are particularly revered for their ability to merge Western and Eastern artistic traditions; he is able to apply the styles of his native Japan, but with a Eurocentric twist. By 2005 he was known as the Japanese Andy Warhol, with a style merging the flat composition of Japanese painting and the simplified aesthetics of anime (Japanese animation) and manga (Japanese comics).
Joan Llaverias is a Catalan artist whose works look to explode with color. The Singulart painter experiments with color to find out how they appear in their pure state, how they can be manipulated throughout the artistic process, and the life they can take on as they form images. His “Pop esculturas” series is a self referential collection in which spray cans are painted on to show culturally iconic figures.