Freeman Cebu Lifestyle

Pop Art

The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines – Pop art is a visual art movement that emerged in the mid-1950s in Britain and in parallel in the late 1950s in the United States. The coinage of the term Pop Art is often credited to British art critic and curator Lawrence Alloway, in an essay titled "The Arts and the Mass Media," although the term he uses is "popular mass culture."  Nevertheless, Alloway was one of the leading critics to defend mass culture and Pop Art as a legitimate art form.

Pop Art is one of the major art movements of the 20th century. Characterized by themes and techniques drawn from popular mass culture, such as the movies and comic books, the art form is widely interpreted as either a reaction to the then-dominant ideas of abstract expressionism or an expansion upon them. Pop Art, like pop music, aims to employ images of the popular as opposed to elitist culture in art, emphasizing the banal or kitschy elements of any given culture. It has also been defined by the artists' use of mechanical means of reproduction or rendering techniques that downplay the expressive hand of the artist. Pop art at times targets a broad audience, and often claims that it is what it's all about.

Much of Pop Art is considered very academic, as the unconventional organizational practices used often make it difficult for some to comprehend. Pop Art and Minimalism are considered to be the last modern art movements and thus the precursors to postmodern art, or themselves some of the earliest examples of postmodern art.

Andrew Warhola (August 6, 1928 - February 22, 1987), better known as Andy Warhol, was an American artist who was a central figure in the Pop Art movement. After a successful career as a commercial illustrator, Warhol became famous worldwide for his work as a painter, an avant-garde filmmaker, a record producer, an author, and a public figure known for his presence in wildly diverse social circles that included bohemian street people, distinguished intellectuals, Hollywood celebrities and wealthy aristocrats. A controversial figure during his lifetime (his work was often derided by critics as a hoax or "put-on"), Warhol has been the subject of numerous retrospective exhibitions, books and documentary films since his death in 1987.

It was during the 1960s that Warhol began to make paintings of famous American products such as "Campbell's Soup Cans" from the Campbell Soup Company and Coca-Cola, as well as paintings of celebrities like Marilyn Monroe, Troy Donahue, and Elizabeth Taylor. He founded "The Factory," his studio, during these years, and gathered around himself a wide range of artists, writers, musicians, and underground celebrities. He switched to silkscreen prints, which he produced serially, seeking not only to make art of mass-produced items but to mass produce the art itself.

In declaring that he wanted to be "a machine," and in minimizing the role of his own hand in the production of his work, Warhol sparked a revolution in art. His works quickly became very controversial - and popular.

Warhol's work from this period revolves around American pop (popular) culture. He painted dollar bills, celebrities, brand-name products, and images from newspaper clippings - many of the latter were iconic images from headline stories of the decade (e.g. photographs of mushroom clouds, and police dogs attacking civil rights protesters). His subjects were instantly recognizable, and often had a mass appeal; this aspect interested him most, and it unifies his paintings from this period. Take, for example, Warhol's comments on the appeal of Coke, in "The Philosophy of Andy Warhol: (From A to B and Back Again).

"What's great about this country is that America started the tradition where the richest consumers buy essentially the same things as the poorest. You can be watching TV and see Coca Cola, and you know that the President drinks Coca Cola, Liz Taylor drinks Coca Cola, and just think, you can drink Coca Cola, too. A coke is a coke and no amount of money can get you a better coke than the one the bum on the corner is drinking. All the cokes are the same... Liz Taylor knows it, the President knows it, the bum knows it, and you know it."

This quotation both expresses Warhol's affection for popular culture, and evidences an ambiguity of perspective that cuts across nearly all of the artist's statements about his own work.













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