Simply put – Pop Art is art which makes use of the imagery of consumerism and mass culture (eg. comic strips, packaging, etc) with a finely balanced mixture of irony and celebration
Does not describe a style – more shared ideas
Began in Britain, late 1950’s then early 1960’s in New York
Chiefly a reaction to Abstract Expressionism
NY School considered to be introverted – did not reflect everyday life
Lichtenstein said previous art had “less and less to do with the world; it looks inward…outside is the world. Pop Art looks out into the world; it appears to accept it’s environment, which is not good or bad, but different, another state of mind.”
Abstract art, difficult for many people to understand because it did not reflect anything in particular – Pop Art bought art back to the simple and understandable – because it was figurative – also it was ‘more American’
Pop artists made common, everyday images into art
Subject matter from everyday life – considered ‘trivial’ and ‘banal’ – Pop artists chose to depict everything previously considered unworthy of notice, let alone art – Pop “acted in the gap between Art and Life” – Rauschenberg
Americans found in it a truthful reflection of the society that surrounded them – society characterised by excess, affluence and the easy availability of people and things. (consumer society)
Pop Artists saw their work as anti-art, in relation to traditional notions of art. They expressed this in their depersonalisation of style, the anti-art subjectivism and in their redefinition of art itself.
Though figurative – does not make use of the image observed at first hand – it must be processed in some way
Took examples of the visual reality and reoffered them in as impersonal a manner as possible
The expressive techniques and colours they adopted owe much to commercial art; poster design, photography, silk-screen printing and comic strips – mass production – time honoured methods of creating art abandoned – “I want to be a machine” said Andy Warhol
Broke down traditional barriers between ‘high’ and ‘low’ art – (commercial art)
Can be seen as art of parody – but this wasn’t usually the artists intention
Pop Art reacted to the phenomenon of depersonalisation in mass society with styles which were equally impersonal, with pictures which had an equally impersonal, with pictures which had an equally objectivising effect. The media had changed the relationship between individual subjectivity and mass consciousness and Pop art therefore also wished to redefine the role of individuality in art.
Andy Warhol Life - Biography
Andy Warhol was one of the most important artists in the Pop art movement in America. Warhol became as famous as many of the celebrities he portrayed in his popular screen prints. Among his many popular quotes and comments he stated famously that " In the future everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes ."
Warhol was born Andrew Warhola in 1928 to Slovakian parents. Born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Warhol studied Commercial Art at the Carnegie Mellon University (formerly known as the Carnegie Institute of Technology) from 1945 to 1949, majoring in Pictorial Design. He then moved then moved to New York to begin a career in illustration and advertising.
Warhol achieved success as a commercial artist during the 1950s, achieving commendations from the Art Director's Club and the American Institute of Graphic Arts. He began to become quite well known for his whimsical ink drawings of shoes. Warhol had work published in popular and widely magazines such as Vogue, Harper's Bazaar and The New Yorker. He also created window displays for several popular retail shop window fronts. During this time Warhol also began exhibiting his work in fine art galleries and managed to exhibit in a group exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in 1956.
"Business art is the step that comes after Art. I started as a commercial artist, and I want to finish as a business artist." Andy Warhol
During the 1960s Andy Warhol produced many of his most famous and iconic images. He had now moved into " the Factory ", a large building located on Union Square in New York City where him and his team of hired workers were mass producing screen prints of popular culture. Famous works from the period included the Cambells Soup Cans, Coke Bottles, Disaster paintings and pop icon portraits such as Marilyn Monroe .
The Factory as he called it was not just the working space for the artist and his workers but was also a meeting place for all kinds of creative and talented people. Artists, musicians, writers and actors frequented the Factory with such notables as Mick Jagger and Truman Capote stopping by.
During one nearly fateful day in 1968 one of the Factory regulars shot Andy Warhol in the stomach injuring several internal organs. A deranged militant feminist Valerie Solanas fired 3 bullets at Warhol wounding him only once. Warhol survived but never fully recovered from his injuries.
Andy Warhol was extensively exhibiting his works in well know art galleries and museums around the world in the 70s and 80s.
His celebrity was almost as great as his famous portraits of Mick Jagger , Marilyn Monroe , Michael Jackson and Elvis Presley. He published "The Philosophy of Andy Warhol (from A to B and back again)", started the "Interview" fashion magazine (still published today), and worked on several television projects including "Andy Warhol's Fifteen Minutes" produced for MTV. Warhol also collaborated with several up and coming painters including Keith Haring , Francesco Clemente, and Jean-Michel Basquiat .
In 1987 on February 22 Andy Warhol died. After a non-threatening gall bladder operation complications arose and Warhol passed away. His funeral was his final act of celebrity with more than 2000 people attending it. Many celebrities, artists, musicians and influential people attended, with Yoko Ono among those who spoke at his funeral.
"Death means a lot of money, honey. Death can really make you look like a star." Andy Warhol
Andy Warhol was a methodical and obsessive person with a great love of art, wealth and fame. He amassed a great fortune during his life time and achieved fame like no painter before him had achieved. He merged art, wealth and fame producing the Pop Artist Andy Warhol.
16 Jackies 1964
About the Mick Jagger Painting 1975
Mick Jagger was painted while he was at the height of fame, fronting one of the most popular rock groups of the time, Rolling Stones. Andy Warhol saw himself as a modern day portrait painter capturing the noblemen and royals of our time. Famous singers, actors, and socialites were all put on the Warhol pedestal.
Dick Tracy 1960
One of his first larger works – subject matter from popular culture
Took a segment of a comic and projected the image onto the canvas – hard edges of the cartoon style dominate – the outline is mechanical and impersonal (as in a comic)
Yet sings of the artists hand – colours show some texture, let thinned paint drip down the canvas like the Abstract Expressionists – signs of process and the artist’ personal thumbprint that would soon disappear in his work.
Andy Warhol. Do It Yourself Flowers). 1962. Crayon on paper.
1962-63 series of “Do it yourself”
Paintings. Reproduces paint by
numbers sheet, popular at the time
and sold by the millions. Reference
to the depersonalisation or
sameness of mass production.
In their patronising manner they
suppress all creativity.
Campbell’s Soup Cans series – began in 1962 – chose to use Campbell’s soup cans as subject matter because he had it everyday
Subject matter from real life
Banal subject matter – started painting single representations of the soup can (acrylic on canvas)
Presented as an advertisement, label to the front, against blank background (unlike the usual still life) – progressed to multiple representations where we see a wall of cans with no break, as if we see them on a supermarket shelf – mass production effect.
Constant repetition increases the ideas of blandness and sameness that the work already conveys – images becomes meaningless when repeated on such a scale
The first ones were painted by hand. At the end of 1962 Warhol discovered how to transfer a picture photographically onto a silkscreen
Photographic silkscreen – eliminating all signs of the artists touch (no trace of expressive gesture or individuality and creating a more mechanically detached image.
Assembly line effect
Warhol once said “I want to be a machine” Compared to Pollock who said “I am nature”
At this time he began to hire assistants to make his paintings. Assistants did most of the work “Cutting things. Placing the screens. Andy would walk along the rows and ask “what colour do you think would be nice”.
The originality of his denial of originality defined his artistic persona.
Cans belong to realm of popular culture, which consists of media representations of base human interests – food sex and violence
Disaster series (1962 – 67) – electric chairs, car accidents, disasters – images obtained from newspapers – 2 nd , 3 rd or 4 th generation images – theme is death which runs through much of Warhol’s work. Repeated the images in decorative patterns and brilliant colours.
“ The more you look at the same exact thing, the more the meaning goes away and the better and emptier you feel”
Desensitisation effect of mass media eg. Orange Disaster 1963 – use of repetition reflects manner in which tv/newspapers repeat images
Feeling of detachment – suggests a depersonalisation that is in itself terrifyingly death-like