Author: Charlotte Bearn

Spotlight On: Pop Art

With a new retrospective of work by Roy Lichtenstein opening at the Tate Modern this month we thought we would take a look at the Pop Art movement of which he was such an integral part.

Pop Art developed simultaneously but independently in both the US and the UK in the mid 1950s and reached its peak in the 1960s. It was a revolt against prevailing orthodoxies in art and life and can be seen as one of the first manifestations of Postmodernism. The main feature of both UK and US Pop Art was its source of inspiration in ‘low art’ such as popular and commercial culture.

Campbell's Soup Can, 1965 (Pink And Red) By Andy Warhol

Campbell's Soup Can, 1965 (Pink And Red) By Andy Warhol

Pop Art used popular culture such as advertising, comic books and mundane cultural objects, as both a source material as well as a subject for critique. It reflected and passed comment on the substantial shifts occurring in society towards a more consumer-orientated market. The movement also embraced other aspects of consumer culture such as Warhol’s embracing of mass producing art in his ‘Factory’ using the silkscreen printing process.

Lawrence Alloway art critic first used the term in print in 1958, and conceived of Pop art as the lower end of a popular-art to fine-art continuum, encompassing such forms as advertising, science-fiction illustration and automobile styling.

In the US Pop Art emerged from works originally classified as Neo-Dada, referencing the first use of everyday object is high art by Duchamp in his ready mades. Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg applied techniques from Abstract Expressionist painting to everyday objects they found around them.

Roy Lichtenstein also began as an Abstract Expressionist but in the 1960’s broke with this style and began developing his paintings inspired by comic strips. He wanted to use the mass produced style on a scale not normally seen, to express very deep emotions or concepts. He also used the style to reproduce existing works of ‘high art’ by artists such as Picasso and Monet.

The other big artist in US Pop Art is of course Andy Warhol. Warhol began as a commercial artist and used both everyday objects as well as celebrities and images from the mass media. He further replicated consumer culture in his Factory production methods and he use of multiple productions of the same image.

Other painters working in the USA associated with Pop Art included Jim Dine, Robert Indiana, Mel Ramos, Ed Ruscha, and Wayne Thiebaud.

I Love Vintage By Peter Blake

I Love Vintage By Peter Blake

In the UK Pop Art evolved from a group of artists working and studying at the Royal College of Art and the ICA in London. Peter Blake was one of the first British Pop artists with his student works directly reflecting his love of folk art and popular culture. In the late 1950s he made constructions and collage-based paintings that incorporated postcards, magazine photographs and mass-produced objects. Other early proponents in the UK include Richard Hamilton David Hockney and Eduardo Paolozzi. Hamilton defined Pop in 1957 as: ‘Popular (designed for a mass audience); Transient (short term solution); Expendable (easily forgotten); Low Cost; Mass Produced; Young (aimed at Youth); Witty; Sexy; Gimmicky; Glamorous; and Big Business’.

Pop Art has left a lasting legacy with artists today continuing to use everyday objects in their work and methods such as silkscreen printing in producing their work. Pure Evil even uses the images of Pop Art itself to create new work, such as his Nightmare series paying homage to Andy Warhol’s celebrity portraits. David Spiller uses cartoon characters and the lyrics from popular songs in his works. Both artists use the silkscreen printing method in their works.

pop art

Destroy the Patriarchy Not the Planet (Mini) £400

Hannah Shillito

27.9 x 21cm

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Best Of The USA £360

Dirty Hans

66.04 x 71.12 cm

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Elvis 68 £395

Simon Dixon

80 x 68 cm

Coupe Plate Lips, 2013 by Jeff Koons
Coupe Plate Lips, 2013 £920

Jeff Koons


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Grate Britain by Antony 'H' Haylock
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Antony 'H' Haylock

47.5 x 65cm

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Eastbound Again £145

Gerry Buxton

40 x 60cm

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Elizabeth 2 by William Blanchard
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Thirsty Bstrd

40 x 60cm

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Marilyn (Silver) by Andy Warhol
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Andy Warhol

51 x 51cm

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49.4 x 69.2cm

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50 x 70 cm

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70 x 70 cm

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There One Minute, Gone the Next £400 £320

Charlie Haydn Taylor

75 x 58.3cm

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Ringo Starr (Blue Stripe) £150

Carl Stimpson

50 x 70cm

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Muhammad Ali £240

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80 x 80 cm

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Terry Pastor

80 x 61 cm

Love and Light Deluxe - Silver £1,750

Dan Baldwin

90 x 90cm

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Beach Girl £220

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42 x 59.4cm

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David Studwell

59.5 x 75cm

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See You Later Alligator! £550

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51 x 72cm

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View from the Upstairs Window £145

Gerry Buxton

38 x 38cm

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Skull Skatedeck (White) by Andy Warhol
Skull Skatedeck (White) £650

Andy Warhol

20.3 x 78.7cm

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Crying Girl (Mailer) by Roy Lichtenstein
Crying Girl (Mailer) £4,525

Roy Lichtenstein

58.4 x 42.5cm

Scratchin' Cats (Blue) £150

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33 x 36cm

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Beauty by Nick Smith
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Nick Smith

62 x 60cm

Limited Edition of 66