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What is Pop-Art?

Pop art, intrinsically linked to the spirit of the 1960s and emanating from an era marked by a vast cultural movement, has its roots in Britain in the mid-1950s, before spreading rapidly throughout the Western world in the midst of a capitalist society in the throes of an industrial revolution.

Pop art painting by artinsolite with marilyn monroe and superman

This era was based on emerging technologies, which pop artists appropriated, and these technological advances deeply permeated the cultural sphere, with pop art manifesting itself in the practices and behaviours of an entire generation.

In Britain, the movement took shape under the influence of Richard Hamilton, while in France, artists such as the sculptor César contributed to it. The late 1950s saw the emergence of American pop art, with figures such as Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Claes Oldenburg, Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, David Hockney and James Rosenquist.

However, this movement is no longer confined to the visual arts, and now extends to fields as varied as music, fashion, the applied arts and many other aspects of culture.

The history of Pop Art

The term "pop art" was first used by members of the group of intellectuals known as the Independent Group. They met at the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) in London and examined the impact of mass media and technology on society. Pop art emerged in Britain in the mid-1950s and took a different form in the United States towards the end of the 1950s.

In the United States, it challenged artistic conventions by arguing that mass production made it possible to reach a wide audience. It is essential to make a clear distinction between British pop art and its American counterpart. British pop art adopts a more ironic or even parodic tone and takes a more critical view of American culture.

American creations are well received because of their simplicity and accessibility.

Artists frequently used new materials derived from consumer society, such as acrylic and silkscreen. In addition to painting, pop art incorporates techniques that in the past were considered industrial rather than artistic. The colours were often vibrant and out of sync with reality, sometimes in black and white. Andy Warhol, considered a pioneer of pop art, reappropriated everyday objects, such as a glass bottle or a tin of Campbell's soup, and transformed them into works of art.

This movement also shook up the art world by challenging the principle of the uniqueness of a work of art. Warhol reproduced his works in dozens, even hundreds, which contradicted the traditional ideas that attributed value to a work because of its uniqueness. Pop art also reintroduced the real and the popular into the realm of painting, after the period of abstract expressionism, which was both non-figurative and aimed at an elite.

Pop art uses popular symbols that are imprinted on the subconscious from childhood, with the aim of demystifying the work of art that was previously reserved for an elite and dealt only with noble subjects. From Mickey Mouse to Marilyn Monroe, via Mick Jagger, he celebrates the almost universal admiration for certain icons, whether neutrally or not, depending on the artist. The advertising culture of consumer society is another source of inspiration, as it is for Jasper Johns.

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