The Art of Pop Culture

By our Special Guest

In the late 1950s, a newly-blooming art movement hit the streets of America, and swept its way through the country: pop art. Pop art challenged the conventional views of art, shifting focus away from abstract expressionism, and towards popular mass culture instead. It emerged as a challenge to what was traditionally considered “fine art”. 

Pop art was not only an artistic movement, but a social movement that saw great success as it catered to the masses, and depicted everyday things that people could relate to. In this article, I would like to briefly cover the incredible influence that pop art had on American culture, consumerism, and the markets. 

But first, we should ask ourselves, where did pop art come from? When juxtaposed with traditional romantic-era art, pop art presented itself as a complete 180. Many of the revolutionary artists at the time felt that they needed to rebel in order to make art more relevant to the younger generation. Thus, they ditched tradition, and began the turn of the century to a more modern-era. 

Artists were inspired by the increasing number of social movements at the time, such as women’s rights movements, many of which became depicted in their works as social activism. Pop art was a new form of expression that spoke to the youth and pushed the boundaries of the norm. 

Perhaps the most well-known pop artist is Andy Warhol. Of course, almost everyone is familiar with his iconic Campbell’s soup cans, or the quad-colored bananas, or the portraits of Marilyn Monroe. All of these representations are characterized by bold, bright, contrasting colors, making up the emblem of pop art. 

Other creations were also marked by a comical style, such as the works of Roy Lichetenstein, who enjoyed the use of small black dots. His most well-known piece is “Drowning Girl,” showing a blue-haired woman surrounded by ocean waves, with tears leaking from her eyes. In a quote bubble above her, she says “I don’t care! I’d rather sink than call Brad for help!” This reflects the political commentary that pop art often incorporated, particularly, women’s independence and the rejection of the “damsel-in-distress” stereotype. 

Finally, this article would not be complete without mentioning Keith Haring. His art resembled New York street graffiti, and often had sexual implications, with outlines of people placed in certain positions. This raised awareness for AIDs and the importance of safe sex. 

So, how is all of this significant, and why should we care about pop art? For me, the answer to these questions is pop art changed the idea that art was separate from popular culture. Its influence extends beyond mere artists, and blurred the lines between avant garde and commercialism. If we look around us, the impact of pop art can be easily seen in advertisements, such as the sleek design of the iPhone, or the bright colors of Google’s icon. 

By now, participation in this artistic and social movement is practically inevitable, seeing as it has seeped its way into almost every facet of public life. Pop art paved the way for both artists and members of society to question their relationships and interactions with everyday life. It undoubtedly set the precedent for such, allowing us to criticize our world and change it. 

We would like to give a thank you to our special guest this month, who has chosen to remain anonymous. If you would like to be a guest writer for our blog, feel free to reach out and we would be more than happy to work with you. If you enjoyed this article, please leave a like and follow our blog on WordPress and on our social medias, which will be linked down below!

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