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Pop Art is a name that has been coined from popular art. Pop art is a form of advertisement through the visual eye consumerism and also popular culture. In consumerism, it is basically used for advertisements on the billboards and packaging on the consumer products. In popular culture, pop art uses comic strips as well as the celebrities to advertise (The Andy Warhol Museum, 1).
According to Comenas (1), the pop art movement started in the mid 1950s in Britain. In the United States, it started in the late 1950s. A British critic known as Laurence Alloway was the pioneer for this pop art movement. Pop art was interesting to look at, as it had a feel for modern culture. Its simplicity, boldness, vibrant colors and the common everyday imagery made it so popular. Pop art revolutionized the tradition of art as it showed that even though an artist uses what is in the popular culture to advertise, he is still in touch with the aspects of fine art. Pop art does not place weight so much on the art, but rather on the factors that led to it. Among the pioneers of pop art movement was a man named Andy Warhol.
Born in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania on August 6th 1928, Andy Warhol is a renowned individual in the pop artist movement. His parents named him Andrew Warhola, but he later changed his name to Andy Warhol. He majored in pictorial design at the Carnegie Institute of Technology, which is now known as Carnegie Mellon University. He moved to New York after graduation. Here, he was employed as a commercial artist. He worked as a member of those who showed their work through visual confirmation for a number of magazines including Vogue and the New Yorker (Warhol & Hackett, 50). He dealt with advertising and also did window displays for a number of shops. It didn’t take long for his star to shine; this was when he debut a job for Glamour magazine. He was given an assignment for an article “Success is a Job in New York”. This made him famous and his name was among the best illustrators at that time. It was his life’s turn over achievement.
Throughput in the 1950s, Warhol was a renowned artist in his career. He was successful as a commercial artist getting himself a number of commendations. He got commendations from the Art Directors Club and the American Institute of Graphic Arts. His first individual achievement came in 1952 when he had his show. Warhol did this show as an individual at the Hugo Gallery. Here, based on the writings of Truman Capote, his show had 15 exhibitions. He had this unique one of a kind style of drawing that he employed using traced photographs and imagery. In 1954, Andy Warhol did yet another exhibit in New York at the Loft Gallery. Here he did three exhibitions. He continued being successful and later in 1958, he hired Vito Giallo, the gallery manager at Loft Gallery. In the late 1950’s, he began to devote himself almost entirely to painting. He produced the first of his pop paintings, mainly based on advertisements and the comics (Cresap, 100).
For Warhol, the 1960s was the decade best defined his career profile. Using images from the popular culture, he came up with a lot of paintings which were really popular up into the 20th century. These included his famous Campbell’s soup cans, those for Marilyn and Disaster’s too. The Campbell’s Soup Can series caused a wild frenzy in the art world. After that, he began a long lineage of portraits for the movie stars. This included Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor and even Elvis Presley. He started this unique series of ‘death and disaster’ paintings. Warhol however did not just stop at paintings but instead, Warhol also made short classical films. In 1963 and later 1968, he worked with celebrities on this films. These included the Chelsea Girls in 1966, Empire in 1964 and Screen tests in 1966.
Bockris (30) asserts that in 1964, Warhol held his first exhibition of sculptures. It showcased a wide number of replicas of the boxes of large supermarket products; these were the likes of Brillo boxes and Heinz boxes. On this occasion was when he premiered his new studio, The Factory, which he painted silver. His new studio became popular and soon everyone in New York was talking about it. In Kansas City, there was a popular night club which was famous as the celebrity’s joint. This club was called Max, and it was where he held his court. By mid 1960s, he was popular and featured in most of the magazines and the media. In 1966, Warhol’s got into the broad limelight of performance art. He had a show known as the Exploding Plastic Inevitable. It featured the rock band, The Velvet Underground. Still in 1966, Warhol exhibited at the Leo Castelli Gallery. In this exhibition, he featured the Cow Wallpaper and Silver Clouds.
The idea behind the pop art movement was basically to come up with a kind of art whose meaning was direct. This was a complete opposite of the Abstract Expressionism which was embraced by the professionals in the field of art. This simplicity was achieved by employing new types of processes like collage on canvas. The colors used for most of the pop art paintings and sculpture was taken from easily recognizable popular ideas like magazines, comic books and films (Smith, 1). Before the pop art movement, traditionally art was done using oils and the sculptures were made from bronze or wood. This was however changed when the Dada anti art movement came into play. It came with the thought that art can be created from almost anything. The pop artists adapted and used this idea for their works. They used whatever materials they could find to present the modern popular culture that was slowly taking over the world.
Most pop artists continued this culture of conceptual art. More thought was placed on the impact or the effect that the art would have on its audience, rather than the ‘what’ composed to the making of that piece of art. The mainstream pop was a very optimistic one and had major concerns about creating new unique ways of expression by the use of pictures. This was deemed as being better than to fade away the tradition of the pioneers of art. As it is still occurring, most pop artists are contributing to fine art rather than drowning it.