Popism

Pop Art, which showed up for the first time in the late 50s, is predominately grounded in popular culture. Pop Art largely focused on images used in advertising, comic books, and every day objects. With Andy Warhol as a primary example of this genre, we will touch on art pieces associated with Warhol during this era and a number of other artists who have implemented this style into their art over the years. 

This book is in actuality a prints catalogue featuring over 40 screen prints from Andy Warhol's collection. The title of the piece is Brillo, it was titled this because the original case for the book was a Brillo box designed by the same artist. Fully supporting the pop art theme of advertisement and ease of rendering, the two pieces we actually see are the Tomato soup can and a black and white self portrait. Warhol evenly uses positive and negative space within his self portrait to render an accurate representation of himself found in the front of the book. Unlike the portrait Warhol utilized a wonderful blend of simple line, geometric shapes, and balanced color to create an every day item that we would normally pay no attention to if we walked past it in the grocery store.
What we see here is a silk screen print self portrait of Andy Warhol. This aspect of quick mechanical reproduction is just one aspect of Warhol and his production of Pop Art. You could say that this piece has balance, Warhol was infamous for placing duplicate pictures side by side by side where the only difference between these two pictures is the vibrant contrast between triadic colors. You can see where he uses red as a primary color for the background in the first picture, in the second picture the background color is now blue. The face changes from predominately yellow in the first picture to red in the second. As time goes on, bright vibrant red changes to deep dark blue, this is a strong contrast and the feeling you get is that his personality is darker on the second one. His photos tend to pop more than most due to the way he saturates his colors.
Michel Majerus, a German born artist took some of his inspiration from artists that were revolutionizing art within the US at the same time, like Andy Warhol. Majerus' form of Pop Art brings mundane items to life, about 50 panels worth of larger than life. In this case Majerus uses a large selection of vibrant solid colors to create a repeating pattern of the word "New Comer". His excellent use of positive and negative space keeps our eyes moving from one panel to the next, almost anticipating what color will come next or maybe looking for the one panel that may seem out of place. There is a certain sense of security as each panel translates across to the next. This repetition creates an initial focal point that then moves, but where it moves to is strongly based on the individual looking at it.
Commonly known as a QC or Quick Code, These codes are found every where in black and white and with the click of a button you can find out where on the internet it will lead you. Douglas Coupland turned this every day item into Pop art through some external inspiration and the addition of pure unadulterated color. Like most pop art this piece is very saturated, utilizing a bright and on the most part a triadic color scheme. This particular piece uses strong geometric shapes to create a feeling of dynamic motion like a mouse in a maze looking for the cheese. The repeating square boxes creates a pathway that your eyes can follow, but you can become confused as your pathway moves left, then right, then it changes color. The piece has a certain rhythm, your eyes tend to rove over the larger squares and then into the smaller squares, following what little solid black path there is.
Tide, what else could it be? This every day household laundry detergent has been stripped of everything except its shape and color, yet we know exactly what it is. This simple every day item epitomizes what Pop Art has to give us in every day society. I find that the focal point for this this piece is in the area of the handle. I feel as if I could reach out and grab it through my computer screen. I then find my eyes moving to the cap, an item that almost blends into the white of the background except that it is different, it makes you want to touch and feel the small upraised lines. This piece has a very nice balance to it, an equal amount of grey, white, and red. This is a beautiful use of positive and negative space. The bright red is pure and unblemished with shadows highlighting the geometrical shapes within it. There are no drawn lines but we see lines based on this shadow.
Roy Lichtenstein had been exhibiting his art for 10 years before he jumped on the Pop Art band wagon with this everyday household item Alka Seltzer. Those of us who grew up in the 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s will really recognize this piece and most likely have fond memories of it. This piece is very well balanced with small repeating dots creating the backdrop and a perfectly symmetrical glass. The only thing that varies is the water and bubbles inside the glass. This piece also has a wonderful motion to it, the water changes direction according to the motion of the bubbles coming from the seltzer. Roy uses strong lines to visualize this motion along with accenting bubbles. This piece is purely lines and geometrical shapes, there are no colors to detract from what is happening inside the glass. This simplicity is what makes the piece so interesting.
Douglas Coupland hits Pop Art on the nose with this every day, every life, around the world piece. Who doesn't know about twitter. Douglas creates unity within this piece through its connectedness. Each of the icons within this piece are directly related to one other in one way or another in the computer world. The focal point to this piece is the two birds, larger than life and sitting in front of all the other items, an indication that they are the ones that deliver your message directly to you. The piece is pure lines and sharp geometrical shapes on a black background. Pure color in a somewhat triadic color scheme makes the entire piece pop out of the paper. It feels like Douglas wants you to be there within his piece, making it all work smoothly, instantaneously.
Choi Jeong Hwa brings Pop Art to your front door with his larger than life, real life, every day items, like these duplicated hand bags attached to the wall. You can feel the balance between the matching striped bags. Each bag is exactly the same distance apart, even the handles on the bags hang the same direction. This piece feels very symmetrical with its unifying repeating pattern, which runs from the ceiling to floor. If I had to look at this piece on a rudimentary level I would say lines, this whole piece is one conglomeration of brightly colored lines (and geometrical shapes) which is a great contrast against a white wall. The use of negative and positive space where the object comes out at you from the wall makes this tetradic colored object flashy, especially for being an every day item.
Choi Jeong Hwa creates works that are almost purely made from mass produced plastic materials, if this doesn't fit the description of Pop Art nothing will. In this case Choi decks the Wolverhampton Art Gallery out in brightly colored ribbons prior to his solo show. Choi makes the ribbons the primary focal point of the building. The ribbons are intermixed in a way to keep your eyes roving over each color while absorbing the complex geometric pattern that is created within the crisscrossed pattern over the surface of the building. The lines of the crossed ribbons create a wide variety of geometric shapes within the overall design. Choi uses something close to a square color scheme int his piece, his choice of colors range evenly around the color wheel and they are very pure and bright.
Choi Jeong Hwa does it again with this piece, a building that very much could have the largest number of doors for a building. This Pop Art piece entails over 1,000 doors, this is very much house hold item we could not live without. This piece is very balanced only because it is a rectangular building with rectangles, the individual geometric shapes put together create this stunning array of colors from top to bottom. With a repeating pattern of rectangular doors side by side by side, you can't help but be astounded at the simplicity/complexity of the piece. With such a random color scheme you would wonder how you can get anything out of this piece, but it is this randomness that lets your eyes rove evenly around the building without any distinct focal point and enjoy it for its simplicity.
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