The pop art movement swept across the United States and Britain in the 1950s. Art reflected then-modern life – mass-produced goods, flashy advertising and celebrity idolization. Original imagery and elaborate art-making processes were out, and simple, familiar commercial subjects were in.
You’ll notice a few themes famous artists from the American pop art movement use that make them easy to recognise in galleries, and all around you.
Colour sets pop art apart. Almost all pop art pieces use just a few colors, each as bright and bold as the last for big impact. While pop art subjects are often everyday objects and famous icons, stark colors make the ordinary, extraordinary.
Pop art is still very much alive today, with artists still creating pieces inspired by the era. Bright colors and solid lines haven’t been contained to gallery art – this style has also influenced advertising, interior design and website design. These colours make an impact, and it’s not just artists who know it.
The art trend of using everyday objects as subjects – or even as the works themselves – can actually be traced back to the Dada movement of the early 1900s, especially with DuChamp’s “Fountain.” This is when artists first realized that there were no limits to what could be considered art.
When you think of objects in art, you’ll probably think of some of the most popular pieces of all time – Andy Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup Can prints. In 1962, Warhol created a print for each of the 32 varieties the Campbell’s sold at the time. The reason? He had the soup for lunch each day for 20 years straight.
Celebrities and other people of influence have been captured in American pop art since Andy Warhol created his iconic pop art prints.
Around the time Warhol began experimenting with screen-printing, Marilyn Monroe passed away suddenly, her tragic death sparking worldwide grief. However, Warhol wasn’t necessarily a diehard film junkie.
So, why was he so fascinated by her image, enough so to recreate it over and over?
Andy Warhol artwork can all be attributed to his obsession with all things manufactured. Monroe’s public image was plasticized – her natural, straight brown hair was constantly hot-rolled and meticulously bleached to create her famous platinum blonde curls. Her voice was artificially baby-like, her smile, restrained.
Warhol’s new art process reflected Monroe’s manufactured public image. His silk-screening process was fast and simple, making it easy for him to mass-produce the same image in dozens of works. Artists don’t just express themselves in the end product – the process is part of the work itself.
Even modern pop artists use celebrities like Marilyn Monroe as a subject as a nod to Warhol.
Words And Text
Pop art is all about breaking the rules. More traditional art pieces rarely include words and text, and when they do, they’re not the main focus of the artwork.
You’ve seen Robert Indiana’s Love prints and sculptures in New York City and Philadelphia, as well as on t-shirts and mugs. This simple artwork represents an easily recognizable, universal sentiment that’s been recreated and manufactured over and over – making it a perfect example of pop art.
Roy Lichtenstein artwork of comic frames used just a few words and lines to capture a high-impact moment. Many of his comic pieces are based on longer graphic novels, so in order to recreate a story in a single frame, he chose the words that spoke the loudest.
All of these American pop art prints and more can be found here on our site, Printed-Editions.com.