Pop Art was a visual art movement that emerged during the mid 1950s. A sign of the times, the style focused on mass production, celebrity and the expanding industries of advertising, TV, radio and print media – shaping a new cultural identity in the field of art and design.
Characterised by brash, bold, colourful and humorous artwork, Pop Art incorporated many design elements, including different styles of painting, sculpture, collage and street art (opens in new tab). Here, we celebrate eight of the leading artists of that era...
01. Keith Haring
Born and raised in Pennsylvania, Keith Harring began creating pop art after leaving college in 1978. Between 1980 and 1989, Harring reached international recognition through independent and collaborative exhibitions. Sadly passing away in February of 1990, Harring's works are still considered some of the most influential in the pop art world.
02. Claes Oldenburg & Coosje van Bruggen
Claes Oldenburg & Coosje van Bruggenare well known for bringing pop art to the masses, by enlarging every day objects and placing them on top of buildings and in the middle of parks, the team "We want to communicate with the public but on our own terms, even if the images are stereotypical," Oldenburg explains.
"Our dialogue, which leads to the definition of a project, may take place anywhere, but we usually make decisions in our studio where we are surrounded by objects, models, notes, and drawings from the recent past and present, stimulated, whenever possible, by recollected observations of a site."
03. Robert Raucshenberg
Robert Rauschenberg is well-known for his 'Combines' collages of the 1950s, in which non-traditional materials and objects were employed in innovative combinations. Rauschenberg was both a painter and a sculptor and the Combines are often a combination of both.
Working with photography, printmaking and performance, Rauschenberg was even awarded the National Medal of Arts in 1993. Sadly, he passed away in 2008.
04. Richard Hamilton
Regarded by many as the father of British pop art, Richard Hamilton created a series of renowned works during the 1950s and 60s. Probably his most famous is his 1956 collage, 'Just what is it that makes today's homes so different, so appealing?'
Created for This Is Tomorrow exhibition of the Independent Group in London, it's the ultimate catalogue of pop art imagery, including reference to newspapers, comics, advertising, applicances, food, packaging, television and the movies.
05. Roy Lichtenstein
Based on an image from 1962 issue of DC Comics’ All-American Men of War, Pop Artist Roy Lichtenstein's Whaam! (1963) is widely regarded as his most important and influential piece. The vibrant. diptych image depicts a fighter aircraft firing a rocket, with a red-and-yellow explosion in the background.
Born in 1923 in New York, Lichtenstein became a leading figure in the Pop art movement, his paintings of comic strip cartoons, washing machines and baked potatoes now considered classics of that era.
06. Peter Blake
On the Balcony is an iconic piece of British Pop Art. At first glance it looks like a collage but is, in fact, a painting, beautifully composed by Peter Blake - one of the most famous British Pop Artists of the 1950s.
A pioneer of Pop Art, Blake's paintings often incorporated imagery from advertisements and collaged elements. This On the Balcony piece, in particular, showcases the interest he had in combining pop culture with fine art.
07. Andy Warhol
Andy Warhol is probably the best known figure in the Pop Art movement. It was in the early 1960s that he began to experiment with reproductions based on mass-produced images from popular culture such as Campbell's soup tins and Coca Cola bottles.
In 1962, four months after the death of Marilyn Monroe, Warhol created several mass-produced images of the actress, all based on the same publicity photograph from the 1953 film Niagra. Arguably his most famous artwork, the repetition of the image was representative of her presence in the media. The diptych print featured the portraits in vibrant colours and fading black and white, symbolising her the cult of a celebrity and her death. He went on to give a similar treatment to celebrities such as Jackie Kennedy and Elvis Presley.
08. David Hockney
British artist David Hockney is most often associated with sun-drenched landscape paintings, which he created while living and working in LA from 1963 to 2005. His early work, which featured a some what humorous mood, vivid colour and made use of magazine-style images, quickly gained him a reputation of leading practitioner of Pop Art.
Developing his style, in the 1980s Hockey began to produce photocollages, initially of Polaroid prints and later of 35mm colour prints. Still working today, Hockney's diverse skills include printmaking, painting, drawing, filmmaking, and theater design.