Pop art

1950

International movement in painting, sculpture and printmaking. The term originated in the mid-1950s at the ICA, London, in the discussions held by the Independent Group concerning the artefacts of popular culture. This small group included the artists Richard Hamilton and Eduardo Paolozzi as well as architects and critics. Lawrence Alloway (1926–1990), the critic who first used the term in print in 1958, 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. 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’. Hamilton set out, in paintings such as $he (1958–61; London, Tate), to explore the hidden connotations of imagery taken directly from advertising and popular culture, making reference in the same work to pin-ups and domestic appliances as a means of commenting on the covert eroticism of much advertising presentation.
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© Grove Art / OUP

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