Contextual Research CPS Painting Research Studio Practice Term 2

Contextual Post – Pop Art

As my work is quite illustrative and cartoonish I was advised to do some research into Pop Art to give some reasonings behind that which make it more appropriate.

Pop art started in the mid-1950s in Britain and late 1950s in America, reaching its peak in the 1960s. It started as a revolt against the most popular approaches to art/culture and traditional views on what art should be. Artists believed that the stuff they were learning at schools and in museums has no relevance to their everyday lives. They found inspiration from sources such as movies, advertisements, packaging, music, and books.
Critics were horrified with artists using such ‘low’ subject matter and their uncritical treatment of it. Pop Art both took art into new areas of subject matter and developed new ways of presenting it in art and be one of the first manifestations of postmodernism.

Differences between British and American Pop Art:
– British Pop artists were inspired by American Culture from a distance while American Pop artists were inspired by their personal experiences with the Culture.

-American Pop Art was very representational and used hard edges/distinct forms after Abstract Expressionism. They wanted to move away from personal feelings/symbolism that came with Abstract Expressionism and instead used impersonal/mundane imagery in their work.

-British Pop Art was more academic in its approach to Pop Art. Using a lot of irony/parody, it focused on the ways that American imagery was used for manipulation and what the imagery represented. The 1950s Group ‘The Independent Group (IG)’ is seen as the precursor of British Pop Art.

The Independent Group (IG):

The Independent Group (IG) was a group of young artists, writers and critics who met at the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) in London to challenge the dominant modernist culture at that time, to make it more inclusive of popular culture. It was created in the 1950s. It was responsible for the formulation, discussion, and dissemination of many of the basic ideas of British pop art and of much other new British art in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

In 1953 the Independent Group did an exhibition called ‘Parallel of Art and Life’ and in 1956 another exhibition called ‘This is Tomorrow.’ This exhibition at the Whitechapel Gallery in London was the group demonstrating their interest in popular and commercial culture. The critic Lawrence Alloway said ‘movies, science fiction, advertising, pop music. We felt none of the dislike of commercial culture standard among most intellectuals, but accepted it as fact, discussed it in detail, and consumed it enthusiastically’. ‘This is Tomorrow’ involved a series of environments and a juke box played continuously.

Information I got from video above – ‘Pop Art is one of the most significant art movements of the 20th century. In London in 1952, a group of young avantgarde artists, writers and architects including Scottish artists Eduardo Paolozzi formed the independent group. This group wanted to challenge the art world and was interested in the relationship between popular culture and the visual arts. Paolozzi led the charge giving an important presentation in which he showed advertising, comic strips, and assorted graphic images from American magazines. Inspired by these images, the group wanted to create art that was inclusive, and which had mass appeal. Many members of the group had already begun to create collages using some of these images. The art created often combined different themes such as war and popular advertisements like coca cola which led to a range of different works being created. Some were  inspired by comic books and cartoons with works in the 1960s including screen prints of Mickey Mouse and Popeye. Andy Warhol’s name became synonymous with pop art. In the early 1960s, Warhol embarked on a series of portraits of stars including Elizabeth Taylor, Elvis Presley and Jackie Kennedy using photographic cell screen printing to create celebrity portraits enabling him to reproduce recognisable images or radio in public like publicity shots or tabloid photographs. He often repeated the image multiple times as both celebration and critique of contemporary culture.  Temporary artists influenced by Pop Art and sometimes referred to as new pop include Jeff Koons and Damien Hirst who often celebrated banality using mechanical processes is to create their work and repetition within it but the legacy of Pop Art and its themes of repetition, daily objects, and mass media lives on beyond dark with endless offshoots and commercial designs appearing in contemporary society. This the greatest sign of their success that they took from popular culture to create that and know that the art they created has been reclaimed by popular culture once more.’

Information I got from video above: ‘In the 1950s, artists started making art inspired by Hollywood movies, advertising, pop music and comic books. There are two types of public pop art, one made in America about America and Pop Art made in Britain about America. Pop artists in America made art about what it was like to live the American dream. Andy Warhol began his career in advertising before realising that he could screen print pictures of soup cans and other products onto canvases and sell them in the same way advertisers sell real supercars. He wore a silver wig at the Linda silver factory in New York and hung out with creative kids like Gerard Malanga, Nico, Lou Reed and Edie Sedgwick who also had silver hair. He said in the future everyone will be famous for 15 minutes, he liked family, he liked money and he made art about both. Roy Lichtenstein painted the world as a comic strip, a painting called ‘quiet’ imitated the industrial techniques of mass production in the same way as mechanical reproduction had imitated the techniques of artists. This is known as parody. Oldenburg blew up everyday objects to monumental proportions to question what constitutes an iconic image in a modern society which embraces disposable mass-produced items. After the Second World War Great Britain looked drab, clearly having lasting effects from all that happened. However, America looked very cheerful after the Second World War. Artists in Britain began making art by using Americas vibrant and aspirational conduit culture which was witty yet ironic. A collage by Richard Hamilton confronts the mass advertising coming to Britain from America. Peter Blake painted pinup girls and wrestlers wearing American jeans and holding a magazine all about Elvis Presley to show the influence American culture is having on Britain. Not everyone liked Pop Art, the art historian Greenberg said it was superficial. Andy Warhol agreed and responded by saying he was a deeply superficial person. In fact, he would find new subject matter in mass production and  developed new ways of presenting it like comic strips and screen prints. Andy Warhol explained that once you got Pop Art, you could never see a site in the same way again and you could never see America the same way again.’

Ways Pop Art is influencing my work:

I am more so influenced by the graphic styles and uses of colour in Pop Art rather than the subject matter or comic styles that often came along with it. I feel that using colour schemes that certain pop artists have used in their work could help me to develop my work even further, generating more ideas which could allow me to get a better final result or colour scheme.

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