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What is Pop Art?

Pop Art is a vibrant art movement that emerged in the 1950s, characterized by its bold, colorful imagery inspired by popular culture and mass media. This art form challenges traditional fine art by incorporating imagery from advertisements, comic books, and mundane cultural objects. Intrigued? Discover how Pop Art continues to influence our visual landscape and question societal norms.
Jesse J
Jesse J

The term "Pop Art" was coined by English art critic Lawrence Alloway in the late 1950s. He used it to describe what he viewed as a contemporary attitudinal shift in subject matter and techniques of art. Instead of rarefied content such as Bible stories, myths or legends that had traditionally been the subjects of Fine Art, Pop Art featured the increasing spread of corporate marketing through Western culture as inspiration to make commerce the subject of artistic scrutiny. In Pop Art, this type of subject matter was considered every bit as artistically worthy as the traditional subject matter of Fine Art.

The Pop Art Movement

Pop Art in the style of Roy Lichtenstein.
Pop Art in the style of Roy Lichtenstein.

Beginning in England in the mid-1950s and the United States in the early 1960s, Pop Art focused on everyday objects rendered through an adoption of commercial art techniques. In so doing, artists availed themselves of images and ideas culled from popular culture — such as movies, comic books, advertising and especially television — and faithfully reproduced in all their mass-produced glory. By making use of what had been dismissed as kitsch by the art establishment, Pop artists whose works were displayed in museums effectively thumbed their collective noses at the distinctions between highbrow art and lowbrow art.

Artists and Examples

Marilyn Monroe, a celebrity and sex symbol of the 1950s and 1960s, was featured in Andy Warhol's works.
Marilyn Monroe, a celebrity and sex symbol of the 1950s and 1960s, was featured in Andy Warhol's works.

Although Andy Warhol was not the first artist to mine advertising for art, he has remained the best-known practitioner of Pop Art. In paintings such as 200 Campbell's Soup Cans (1962) and Marilyn Monroe Diptych (1962), Warhol tried to elevate mechanical reproduction to Fine Art status, enraging some critics even as buyers eagerly bought up his work. Similarly, Roy Lichtenstein turned to the comic strips of his youth to inspire his garishly bright art that depicted sensational action or drama formed by the same kind of enlarged printer's dots that were used on cheap newsprint, and he reaped great success in the process.

Sculptor Claes Oldenburg sought to deprive everyday objects, such as hot water bottles, of their function.
Sculptor Claes Oldenburg sought to deprive everyday objects, such as hot water bottles, of their function.

Other artists, such as Robert Rauschenberg and Richard Hamilton, formed collages out of pre-existing print images that took on added subtexts of ironic or sardonic meaning when assembled together. Muralist James Rosenquist created billboard-sized works that were crammed with consumer goods as a comment on media overload, and sculptor Claes Oldenburg sought to deprive everyday objects of their function, crafting soft vinyl toilets and humongous hot water bottles that would have no practical use.


Designed for the masses, Pop Art saw its design aesthetic dissolve after the late 1960s. It was at once eclipsed by Abstract Expressionism and assimilated by the same corporate marketing sources that it had used for creative fuel. Pop Art has remained popular with collectors, especially as a symbol of the culture of the 1960s.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Pop Art and when did it originate?

Pop Art is an art movement that emerged in the 1950s and gained prominence in the 1960s, particularly in the United States and the United Kingdom. It is characterized by its focus on popular culture and the use of imagery from mass media, advertising, and consumer goods. Pop Art challenges traditional fine art by incorporating elements from everyday life and utilizing mass production techniques. According to The Art Story, Pop Art was a direct response to the then-dominant ideas of abstract expressionism, seeking to blur the boundaries between "high" art and "low" culture.

Who are some of the most famous Pop Art artists?

Some of the most renowned Pop Art artists include Andy Warhol, known for his iconic depictions of Campbell's soup cans and Marilyn Monroe; Roy Lichtenstein, famous for his comic strip-inspired paintings; Keith Haring, recognized for his bold lines and vivid colors; and Claes Oldenburg, celebrated for his large-scale public sculptures of everyday objects. These artists are credited with defining the movement and influencing generations of artists to come. The Tate Gallery highlights these and other key figures as instrumental in shaping the Pop Art movement.

How did Pop Art influence culture and society?

Pop Art had a significant impact on culture and society by challenging the status quo of the art world and bringing art into the everyday conversation. It democratized art by making it more accessible and relatable to the general public. Pop Art also influenced various aspects of culture, including fashion, music, and advertising, by embracing and reinterpreting commercial and popular imagery. According to the Museum of Modern Art, Pop Art's influence extended beyond visual arts, affecting the broader cultural landscape and the way people perceived art and consumerism.

What are some characteristics of Pop Art?

Pop Art is characterized by its vibrant colors, bold lines, and the use of recognizable imagery from popular culture. It often employs techniques like irony, parody, and pastiche to comment on contemporary society. Pop Art works frequently utilize mechanical or commercial techniques such as silk-screening and are sometimes produced in multiple editions. The Smithsonian American Art Museum notes that Pop Art's aesthetic is instantly recognizable and has become synonymous with the cultural zeitgeist of the 1960s.

How does Pop Art differ from other art movements?

Pop Art distinguishes itself from other art movements through its embrace of mass culture and its departure from the abstract and esoteric subjects that dominated previous art forms. Unlike Abstract Expressionism, which focused on subjective emotional expression, Pop Art was more objective and depicted everyday, mundane objects. In contrast to the elitist tendencies of movements like Modernism, Pop Art was intentionally inclusive and sought to erase the boundaries between "high" and "low" art. The Guggenheim Museum explains that Pop Art's unique approach to source material and its commentary on consumerism set it apart from other contemporary movements.

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Discussion Comments


Pop art is awesome! There's a music video with some cool Pop art in it - great song too! "She Likes Pop Art" by Whistlejacket.


I like it - it's cheeky and fun and I enjoy trying to make similar pieces myself. And I agree, it has massively influenced much of the art around us - even down to product design - which is where it started!


Pop art was real art and it inspired lots of people, including me to make the same art.


I have a book I am working on that includes research into Pop Art and my sister Nancy's love for the work. She was a pop artist during part of her art life career. I am making pieces of digital art that represents her own work in the styles of teachers she adored.


My name is tingyechy and I love pop art. I think it could be used as a form of communication for the shy to tell the world how they feel.


Pop art is cool. I like Romero Britto's style!


Pop art is weird. I think it should be left for the comic books.


Pop Art is interesting and its cool especially when they use celebrities in it and use commercial art techniques.


pop art is cool. we're leaning about it in class. it's adverts that are art and are against the boring stuff art that's the norm!


I like pop art. we are doing it at school for art. I find it really interesting, some of its kind of boring but most of it is really good. I love the ones that really pop out!


Pop art was inspirational. I'm writing my dissertation on how pop art was affected by consumerism, and for all of those struggling with their homework i really don't see how you can be! It's so easy!

Post war = More money.

More money = New inventions (Vacuum cleaner).

New inventions = More advertising.

Pop art is commenting on these three points. Because there was more money in society, consumerism really took off. They commented on people's buying habits with art. Simple.


I don't know what pop art actually is but i love it. could someone tell me please?


I love pop art. It's so cool, but i have homework on it and i don't know what it means and i can't find any information about it!


pop art is amazing. we have been spending months on it in our art studies but it is annoying when you get homework on it and you can't find the facts.


pop art is great and it's an exciting way to do art, but is crap when you have homework on it.


i love pop art! it is so cool!


I agree with anon 76443 and top of that, we need to think out of the box and come up with a solution. we can change the world through art work and please if you don't know art, live it.


i don't understand what it means but i love pop art.


Pop art is cool to look at.


'Pop Art' was - and continues to be - used as an umbrella term, universally applied to a large variety of different visual and conceptual concerns...

What does this mean?


pop art is so cool. One of my favorite types of art.


Frankly pop art is strange! I just don't see the point, having said that sometimes it can look cool. But I'm really not convinced!


what was pop art used for? please let me know asap as it is for homework


pop art is not rubbish.


pop art is cool.


The purpose of art is to create an emotion, comment or a thought from the viewer. Even comments such as "pop art is rubbish" is still a comment and people are talking about it and voicing their opinions. The artist has therefore aroused emotions.


Pop art is wonderful if you are not good at art. it's something that's easy, but really hard if you have to do homework on that subject.


i agree with anon75720.


pop art is crap and stupid.


pop art is all right.


pop art is cool because things that look boring, pop art makes it look cool. i agree with anon 66267. It's so cool.


I love pop art but the thing that annoys me is that you can't find facts about it, especially for projects so you end up getting a bad mark!


i think that pop art is a load of great art. it is full of passion.


@ anon66267: it's people's different views on arts which make it special to some people but boring to others. it's opinion without feeling the emotion or influence of the art you find it boring. It's all about imagination and emotions giving through the art of using imagery to explain words.


i love pop art, but there isn't very much information on it when you need to write an assignment on it for your art class.


pop art is stupid when you have to write an assignment on it.


Pop art is crap.


pop art is wonderful.


pop art is boring art.


Pop art is not at all rubbish. it has transformed how people today look at art. Companies all over the world use pop art to advertise their products. People all over have pop art in their homes. It is a way to express yourself. No style of art should ever be called rubbish. it is a way people show who they are. Some people may only be able to use art as a way to present their ideas and feelings.

If it wasn't for everyone's different influences on art, we might not have what we see today. So please think next time before you call art rubbish.


what are you talking about anon45769? pop art is an awesome creative way to show everyday items in art.


Pop Art is freaking awesome.


Pop art is cool,awesome,and wonderful


pop art is rubbish.

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    • Pop Art in the style of Roy Lichtenstein.
      Pop Art in the style of Roy Lichtenstein.
    • Marilyn Monroe, a celebrity and sex symbol of the 1950s and 1960s, was featured in Andy Warhol's works.
      Marilyn Monroe, a celebrity and sex symbol of the 1950s and 1960s, was featured in Andy Warhol's works.
    • Sculptor Claes Oldenburg sought to deprive everyday objects, such as hot water bottles, of their function.
      By: George.M.
      Sculptor Claes Oldenburg sought to deprive everyday objects, such as hot water bottles, of their function.