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Pop Art History

Updated on October 15, 2014

Pop Art and Mass Media

Pop art is an art that has regained popularity. The history of pop art emerged in the mid 1950s in Britain and in the 1960s in the United States. Now in the 2000s, pop art has regained popularity.

Pop art is about techniques of commercial art it imitated the techniques of commercial art (as the soup cans of Andy Warhol) and the styles of popular culture and the mass media.

The Mass media would include: painting, sculpture, and graphics that use the imagery of popular or mass culture such as newspapers, comics, advertising, and consumer goods. A witty and ironic art.

Pop art is lots of things that high-art isn't - it's mass-produced, it is expendable, it is low-cost, glamorous, witty and encourages big bucks, bright lights and big celebrities - there's no sign of the impoverished artist slaving away in a tiny studio in this movement. Some critics like Harold Rosenberg described Pop art as being "Like a joke without humor, told over and over again until it begins to sound like a threat... Advertising art which advertises itself as art that hates advertising."

Although Andy Warhol was not the first artist to mine advertising for art, he remains the best known for this particular style in America.

Richard Hamilton was the founder of Pop Art

Richard Hamilton's Swinging London 67 - Known as the hand painting

What is Pop Art?

  1. Pop art is where the main object is isolated or combined with other objects.
  2. It is a way of expression more than it is an art.
  3. Pop art is an art movement of the twentieth century.
  4. Pop art is about popular culture. This includes ideas, perspectives and attitudes.
  5. It is a form of abstract.
  6. This is an art of mass media.

Some critics like Harold Rosenberg

described Pop art as being

"Like a joke without humor, told over and over again until it begins to sound like a threat..."

It mocks advertising.

Revolt into Style The Pop Arts in Britain

Pop Art: US/UK Connections: 1956-1966

Pop Art in Britain

American Pop Art by Lawrence Alloway

The first exhibit of Pop art work in Britain was at the Collages and Objects exhibit organized by John McHale and Lawrence Alloway (an English art critic) in October 13, 1954, at the Institute of Contemporary Arts. McHale also exhibited his "Why I Took To The Washers In Luxury Flats" which was his early logic gaming Pop art collage that is crammed full of Pop art media images that can be reprogrammed like manual software by the participant viewer traversing the collage. In August of 1956 McHale contributed most of the Pop art work for the "This is Tomorrow' exhibit at the ICA There is no record of Lawrence Alloway using the term pop art in relation to the communications and signage theme of his contribution to the Group 12 exhibit in 1956. Lawrence Alloway is often incorrectly credited with the first published use of the term "pop art", when in fact he only refers to "mass popular art" in his often cited article in the February 1958 issue of Architectural Design and Construction.

Origin of the Term "Pop Art"

The Expendable Ikon: Works by John Mc Hale

John McHale (Sr.) with Self-Portrait (Photo: Sam Lambert) (Pop art founder in England)

John McHale (born Maryhill, Glasgow 1922, died Houston, Texas 1978) was an artist and sociologist. He was a founder member of the Institute of Contemporary Arts, and a founder of the Independent Group, which was a British movement that originated Pop Art which grew out of a fascination with American mass culture and post-WWII technologies. McHale originally coined the term "Pop art" in 1954.

"Pop" Art refers to "popular culture". It is an art used with commercialism. The Pop Art Movement eliminated distinctions between "good" and "bad" taste and between fine art and commercial art techniques.

Just what is it that makes today's homes so different, so appealing?

This is a collage by Richard Hamilton (1956). The work is now in the collection of the Kunsthalle Tubingen, Tubingen, Germany. It was the first work of pop art to achieve iconic status.

Hamilton created this for the catalog of the This Is Tomorrow exhibition held in London, England in August 1956 in which it was reproduced in black and white. This had also been used in posters for the exhibit.

Pop art from Wikipedia.

Richard Hamilton Paperback

Richard Hamilton (October Files) Book

Richard Hamilton in Books

Still little-known in the United States, Richard Hamilton is a key figure in twentieth-century art. An original member of the legendary Independent Group in London in the 1950s, Hamilton organized or participated in groundbreaking exhibitions associated with the group-in particular This Is Tomorrow (1956), for which his celebrated collage Just what is it that makes today's homes so different, so appealing?, crystallizing the postwar world of consumer capitalism, was made. With his colleagues in the Independent Group, Hamilton promoted the artistic investigation of popular culture, undertaking this analysis in paintings, prints, and texts, thus setting the stage for Pop art-indeed, he is often called the intellectual father of Pop. At the same time, Hamilton was crucial to the postwar reception of Marcel Duchamp, transcribing his notes for The Large Glass and producing a reconstruction of this epochal piece for the first Duchamp retrospective in Britain, in 1966. Over the years Hamilton has continued to develop his work, in a variety of media, on subjects ranging from the Rolling Stones to the Troubles in Northern Ireland, from new commodities and technologies to the oldest genres in Western painting. True to the mission of the October Files series, this volume collects the most telling essays on Hamilton (including several hard-to-find texts by the artist), spanning the entire range of his extraordinary career.

American Pop Art by Lawrence Alloway

Pop Art in America

Temporally, the British pop art movement predated the American one. Pop art stating in the early 1960s in the United States. Roy Lichtenstein was the most popular and one of the most consistent pop art practitioners using stencil-like dots to represent comics or later the simplification/parody of fine art from the vivid pop art perspective. Andy Warhol became the most famous American pop artist using a pseudo-industrial silkscreen process for painting commercial objects such as Campbell's Soup Cans, Coca-cola bottles, for portraying raging celebrity such as Liz Taylor, Jackie Kennedy, and Marilyn Monroe and for portraying the deadpan and banal.

Roy Lichtenstein - Drowning Girl (1963) on display at the Museum of Modern Art, New York

History of Lichtenstein

Roy Lichtenstein was very much a "comic-strip" artist and produced masses of works using imagery from comics. Starting out in 1960, he painted vastly-inflated images of comic-strip frames formed from the dots of color newsprint. During the same year, Oldenburg set about carving his own niche in the pop art world, creating large, painted plaster sculptures of sandwiches and cakes! These were soon followed by huge plastic appliances that were softened to allow them to give a distinctive "droop". All of it was designed explore the nature of "consumer culture" that was sweeping the nations on both sides of the Atlantic.

Campbell's Soup Cans by Andy Warhol - Get Your Own Soup Poster Below

Yum! Soup!

32 Campbell's Soup Cans

Sometimes called 32 Campbell's Soup Cans, produced by Andy Warhol in 1962. It consists of thirty-two canvases, each measuring 20 inches (510 mm) in height à 16 inches (410 mm) in width and each consisting of a painting of a Campbell's Soup can. One of each of the canned soup varieties the company offered at the time. The individual paintings were produced with a semi-mechanized silkscreen process, using a non-painterly style.

Andy Warhol, known as a commercial illustrator showed the work on July 9 1962 in his first one-man gallery exhibition as an artist in the Ferus Gallery of Los Angeles, California. The exhibition marked the West Coast debut of pop art; which is now displayed in the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Andy Warhol's fame elevated after his "Campbell's Soup Cans" work was produced and featured in separate works - firstly as individual "cans" and then the same cans aligned in immaculate rows. Marilyn Monroe and Jackie Kennedy, possibly the biggest 60s female icons at the time, were also given the "Warhol treatment" in which he silk screened their images, altered the colors and reproduced them in repeated patterns.

Andy Warhol, Self-Portrait, 1986

Self-Portrait, 1986 Art Print Poster By: Andy Warhol

Andy Warhol A Set of Six Self-Portraits 1967 Art Print Poster

Andy Warhol, known as the Father of Pop Art

Andy Warhol History

Machines have less problems. I'd like to be a machine, wouldn't you? -Andy Warhol, 1963

In the future everybody will be world famous for 15 minutes. -Andy Warhol, 1975

Andy Warhol became fabulously famous for his 1960s pop art. He produced big, bold images of the popular, the famous, and the stuff of our consumer society. His multi-image portraits of famous people-Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley, Jacqueline Kennedy-and of common products-Campbell's soup cans, Brillo pad boxes, Coca-Cola bottles-are among the most powerful icons of twentieth-century American art.

The Autobiography and Sex Life of Andy Warhol

Bedsides Andy's self-portraits,

Marilyn Monroe is one of his best known celebrities in his Pop Art prints.

Andy Warhol Ten Marilyns 1967 Art Print Poster

Popart Photos Using Adobe Photoshop

Pop Art in Italy

In Italy, Pop Art was known from 1964, and took place in different forms, such as the "Scuola di Piazza del Popolo" in Rome, with artists such as Mario Schifano, Franco Angeli, Giosetta Fioroni, Tano Festa and also some artworks by Piero Manzoni and Mimmo Rotella. During the Nineties, NeoPop developed in Italy and Europe as a contemporary remake of Pop Art.

Groovy Pop Art on Zazzle - Great Gift Ideas

Zazzle and Amazon

See more Grroovy Pop Art Gifts on Zazzle.

Type in Sandy Mertens Pop Art in the Amazon search for more cool custom gifts.

Pop Art in Spain

In Spain, the study of Pop art is associated with the "new figurative," which arose from the roots of the crisis of informalism. Eduardo Arroyo could be said to fit within the Pop art trend, on account of his interest in the environment, his critique of our media culture which incorporates icons of both mass media communication and the history of painting, and his scorn for nearly all established artistic styles.

Pop art in Japan

Pop art in Japan is unique and identifiable as Japanese because of the regular subjects and styles. The most well known pop artist currently in Japan is Takashi Murakami, whose group of artists, Kaikai Kiki is world renowned for their own mass produced but highly abstract and unique Superflat art movement, a surrealist, post modern movement whose inspiration comes mainly from Anime and Japanese street culture, and is mostly aimed at youth in Japan, and has made large cultural impact. Many pop artists in Japan use surreal or obscene, shocking images in their art, which is clearly taken from Japanese Hentai.

Pop Art Prints on Amazon

Feeling Groovy

Do you Think Pop Art is a Real Art? - Thanks for visiting! Sign the guestbook so I know you were here!

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    • SandyMertens profile image

      Sandy Mertens 4 years ago from Frozen Tundra

      @SusanneB: And it is fun to make too.

    • SusanneB profile image

      SusanneB 4 years ago

      Yes I think pop art is real art:)

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Now I know more about pop art. Thanks.

    • SandyMertens profile image

      Sandy Mertens 4 years ago from Frozen Tundra

      @Baddew Fibes: Glad you were able to impress him.

    • Baddew Fibes profile image

      Baddew Fibes 4 years ago

      Found this very informative. My son is currently doing Pop Art at school and I've managed to impress him now with my new-found knowledge! Thanks. :)

    • josietook profile image

      josietook 4 years ago

      I absolutely love pop art and yes it most certainly is real art.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      Yes I think Pop Art is real art for sure and as any other type, there is some that I love and some that I really don't care for at is always in the eye of the beholder when it comes to are! :)

    • Gypzeerose profile image

      Rose Jones 5 years ago

      Very cool. I saw a play once about Andy Warhol, he was an amazing and complex man. Pinned to my board: art I love and blessed.

    • KandH profile image

      KandH 5 years ago

      Of course it is and you've shared some excellent examples of it here - well done!

    • Michey LM profile image

      Michey LM 5 years ago

      I like how you explain Pop Art in different country.

    • ConnieGreen LM profile image

      ConnieGreen LM 5 years ago

      Very interesting - I love Pop Art!

    • profile image

      entertainmentev 5 years ago

      I love pop art! It's so much fun. :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago


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      artisticperson 5 years ago

      Nice lens, if you like art, check out mine:

    • profile image

      Angel_Lou 5 years ago fact - brilliant lens!

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      anonymous 5 years ago


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      sandi_x 5 years ago

      Andy rules!!

    • xriotdotbiz lm profile image

      xriotdotbiz lm 5 years ago

      Got my introduction to pop art through the documentary Exit Through the Gift Shop.

    • Craftypicks profile image

      Lori Green 5 years ago from Las Vegas

      Great lens and I love the way it's designed

    • Hypersapien2 profile image

      Hypersapien2 5 years ago from U.S.

      Very enjoyable lens.

    • profile image

      muathuvang 5 years ago

      thank you

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      Elenaind 5 years ago

      Great lens!

    • cynthiannleighton profile image

      cynthiannleighton 5 years ago

      Well done though! So I do like!!

    • cynthiannleighton profile image

      cynthiannleighton 5 years ago

      Interesting... not my cup of tea:-)

    • virtualboy profile image

      virtualboy 5 years ago

      it's the cats meow

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I learned a lot about Pop Art here today. I was familiar with Warhol and had heard of Lichtenstein. But I didn't know a thing about McHale or Hamilton before visiting your lens. This was interesting and educational. Thanks for sharing it with us!

    • top101 profile image

      top101 6 years ago

      I think pop art is really cool. One of my favorite pieces is the one by Richard Hamilton. I love his message.

    • Rangoon House profile image

      AJ 6 years ago from Australia

      Iconic 20th century art.

    • Ram Ramakrishnan profile image

      Ram Ramakrishnan 6 years ago

      Great lens! Anything that appeals to the eye can be termed art. Categorizations such as "real", "pop", and such others are I suppose based on individual perspectives.

    • profile image

      getmoreinfo 6 years ago

      I love popart, I think it is the greatest creative expression of color.

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      JoshK47 6 years ago

      Very informative, thanks for sharing! Blessed by a SquidAngel!

    • davies86 profile image

      davies86 6 years ago

      excellent lens. enjoyed reading it.

    • Scarlettohairy profile image

      Peggy Hazelwood 6 years ago from Desert Southwest, U.S.A.

      Great review of Pop Art. It's not my style but it's interesting!

    • CastleRoyLisa profile image

      Lisa 6 years ago from Rhode Island

      very cool lens Sandy

    • SandyMertens profile image

      Sandy Mertens 6 years ago from Frozen Tundra

      @anonymous: Thanks Phill, I added some answers to your questions above.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      i have a question...who was the founder of pop art....... and i have another question what celebrity was used as a subject matter for several of andy warhol's prints?

    • Aquavel profile image

      Aquavel 6 years ago

      Wow! This is an awesome lens Sandy! Full of great info, stunning visuals and products! Gorgeous lens styling to boot!

    • xposedbydesign profile image

      xposedbydesign 6 years ago

      very nice job with this lens. I like all the bling you added.

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      peppervel 6 years ago

      Definitely! It's so vibrant. When you look at them, you sensed the energy 'left' behind the their 'creators'.

    • mermaidlife profile image

      mermaidlife 6 years ago

      When I think of pop art, I think "groovy" pop art as you said in your lens so it was interesting to find these pop art from all over the world. I'm sure they don't refer to it as "groovy" there too!

    • LinkCollection profile image

      LinkCollection 6 years ago

      yes it is, it shows so much creativity. One of the great Pop Art Artist today is Romero Britto

    • Close2Art LM profile image

      Close2Art LM 6 years ago

      great lens, I love pop art, it will never go out of style for me...:)RWJR

    • Joan Haines profile image

      Joan Haines 6 years ago

      Yes, pop art is real art. Pop, pop!

    • Close2Art LM profile image

      Close2Art LM 6 years ago

      awesome lens thanks for sharing...RWJR

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      NYThroughTheLens 6 years ago

      Great lens!

    • rewards4life info profile image

      rewards4life info 6 years ago

      I love this kind of art! Lensrolling to my surreal art posters page. Nice one! =)

    • profile image

      originalmariaozawa 6 years ago

      great lens, very clear and help me a lot

    • MamaBelle profile image

      Francis Luxford 7 years ago from United Kingdom

      Great Lens enjoyed my visit, Thanks.

    • thesuccess2 profile image

      thesuccess2 7 years ago

      I love Pop Art and all the similar Art that regularly gets attacked as being junk in the media!

    • jnstewart profile image

      John Norman Stewart 7 years ago from Cottonwood, CA

      Great art lens. I'm heavily in the arts, both doing it and viewing it and I was lucky to live in Los Angeles and see a lot of it as it was happening. I'll be checking out your other lenses. :)

    • justholidays profile image

      justholidays 7 years ago

      Gosh! That is what I call an impressive Pop Art related resource! We learn everything that we want to know about pop art but don't dare to ask!

    • ZOLTAR69 profile image

      ZOLTAR69 7 years ago

      EXCELLENT Lens, very informative! ZOLTAR69

    • MargoPArrowsmith profile image

      MargoPArrowsmith 7 years ago

      Thanks for the history. I am a big fan of the romance comic book art, would love to be able to do that!

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      Patricia 7 years ago

      Merry Christmas!

    • Springbok LM profile image

      Springbok LM 7 years ago

      I really enjoyed your squidoo about the History of Pop Art

    • Mix Mafra profile image

      Michelle Mafra 7 years ago from Corona CA

      Sorry I forgot to answer the questions. yes!

    • Mix Mafra profile image

      Michelle Mafra 7 years ago from Corona CA

      Great Lens. Love pop art and I think you covered it really well. Thank you!

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      WeirdStuff 7 years ago

      I love Andy, we have roots in the same country :)

    • ClinicallySigni profile image

      ClinicallySigni 7 years ago

      Awesome lens...I've always been a pretty big Warhol and pop art fan which can be seen in some of my Chiropractic art. It was only natural that I would love this lens. Great job!

    • justholidays profile image

      justholidays 8 years ago

      Ooops! I don't think it's real Art but it's art ;) In addition, your turned your lens into an interesting art class and I'm grateful for that! Love the Andy Warhol Campbell's soup photo!

      SquidAngels blessings to pop art history!

    • kateloving profile image

      Kate Loving Shenk 8 years ago from Lancaster PA

      Swooping down to learn about pop culture. Glad I found this lens.


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      anonymous 8 years ago

      Ooh. I love pop art. What a great idea for a lens. It's so colorful and fun. Thanks for doing this one, Sandy. I enjoyed it.

    • TreasuresBrenda profile image

      Treasures By Brenda 8 years ago from Canada

      Great subject. Your lens is blessed and lensrolled to my lens, Magnum's Hawaiian Shirt which I believe is a great piece of more recent pop art!


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      qlcoach 8 years ago

      Well crafted and beautiful lens. I found you on Lensroll. You deserve 5 stars and more. Hope youw will visit my new lens on emotional healing. Gary Eby, author and therapist.

    • profile image

      glowchick 8 years ago

      Great lens and I love all the different products you have! 5*

    • CherylK profile image

      Cheryl Kohan 8 years ago from Minnesota

      Great lens! Learned a few things I didn't know. Thanks.

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      tdove 8 years ago

      Thanks for joining G Rated Lense Factory!

    • ElizabethJeanAl profile image

      ElizabethJeanAl 8 years ago

      Welcome to The Totally Awesome Lenses Group


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      LeftHandMan 8 years ago

      Pop art was probably the last group of artists to thrust itself onto the public consciousness. A provocative time that called for a social message. Too bad it didn't evolve.

    • karen550 lm profile image

      karen550 lm 8 years ago

      I think we've always had some sort of pop art around us. It definitely is unique. Thanks for sharing. Nice job.

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      Andy-Po 8 years ago

      Excellent lens and I do like your interpretations of Pop Art

    • evelynsaenz1 profile image

      Evelyn Saenz 8 years ago from Royalton

      It looks like Richard Hamilton anticipated having a Wii playstation in the living room a half a century ago.

    • Sensitive Fern profile image

      Sensitive Fern 8 years ago

      Fascinating! I didn't know that it was a collage that started it all. 5*

    • Tyla MacAllister profile image

      Tyla MacAllister 8 years ago

      Excellent lens! You've thoroughly covered the subject of pop art here. Definite 5 stars.

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      anonymous 8 years ago

      Yes and no! Some of it has something to say and other works are just a knock off, such as the red and black striped canvas at the National Art Gallery in Canada that the government paid a very handsome price for. When I think of all the poor that could have been taken care of with that money! I could have given them a red and black striped canvas for nothing if they had given all that money to the poor.