What You Need to Know About Pop Art

Know your Warhol from your Lichtenstein

By Google Arts & Culture

Words by Léonie Shinn-Morris

Alka Seltzer (1966) by Roy Lichtenstein (American, 1923-1997)The Art Institute of Chicago

Pop Art is an art movement that began in the mid-1950s in the US and UK. Inspired by consumerist culture (including comic books, Hollywood films, and advertising), Pop artists used the look and style of mass, or 'Popular', culture to make their art.

Dollar Sign (1981) by Andy WarholRoyal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium

As the rationing and austerity of the post-war 1950s changed into the swinging 1960s, Pop Art really took off.

Andy Warhol: Last Sitting (1986 - 1986) by David LaChapelleMAC-Lima

This is Andy Warhol...

Self Portrait (1967) by Andy WarholDetroit Institute of Arts

Perhaps the most famous and notable Pop artist, Warhol fittingly began his career in advertising before moving into visual arts. Warhol was interested in fame and money - not just making it for himself (although that too!) - but also in looking at the nature of celebrity culture and consumerism in contemporary society.

Brillo (1988) by Andy Warhol and published by Galerie Ronny van de Velde, Antwerp 1988Olomouc Museum of Art

Although most renowned for his screen prints (like this one) Warhol's art practice also encompassed performance, film and even music.

Portrait of Hugh Gaitskell as a Famous Monster of Filmland (1964) by Richard HamiltonArts Council Collection

Pop artists cut up, used, reworked and threw together a whole variety of different pop culture references. But one dominant theme was mass production, particularly in regards to the role of the artwork in a culture of disposable objects and easily reproducible images.

Booster (1967) by Robert RauschenbergNational Academy of Design

Orange Car Crash (5 Deaths 11 Times in Orange) (Orange Disaster) ([1963]) by Andy WarholGalleria Civica di Arte Moderna e Contemporanea Torino

Not only was Pop Art conceptually interested in mass production in its subject matter, but it also looked at mass production in its very form and materials. Screen printing, for example, plays with the easily made, easily reproduced work of art.

Suitcase, Stepladder (1966) by KUSAMA YayoiThe Museum of Modern Art, Saitama

Pop Art (1963) by John LeongardLIFE Photo Collection

Pop artists reduced the world to its flat, shiny, seductive surfaces. In Roy Lichtenstein's artworks, the artist reduces the world to the 2D shapes of a comic strip.

Red Barn (1969) by Roy LichtensteinHuntington Museum of Art

Untitled (2014) by Lady AikoOutdoor Project

Pop Art has had a huge impact on artists right up to the present day, and is often seen as the beginning of Postmodern Art.

Supermercado de la Septima (1966) by Santiago CárdenasMuseum of Contemporary Art Bogotá

It has also had a huge geographical reach, influencing artists across the world. Take a look at these contemporary artworks from as far afield as Korea, Italy, and Colombia...

Real Materials Existing in Real Space (2010) by Choi, JeonghwaKorean Art Museum Association

Phew! So that was Pop Art in 5 minutes!

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