Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Artist of the Week No. 7

Pop Art Featuring Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein

I will be teaching Pop Art to my high schoolers in a few weeks and thought I'd share some of my notes and thoughts with you all over here on my Artist of the "week" feature.  So here's what I have so far...

Since 1962 Lichtenstein has parodied the mindless violence and sexless romance {or romance-less sex} of comic strips to reveal the absurdity of American culture.
from here.
from here.

“It was hard to get a painting that was despicable enough so that no one would hang it.  Everyone was hanging everything.  It was almost acceptable to hang a dripping paint rag.  [But] the one thing everyone hated was commercial art.  Apparently they didn’t hate that enough either.” -Roy Lichtenstien

from here.

Lichtenstein’s work is that of comic book techniques and subjects.  He used bright primary colors with black and white.  He outlines simplified forms, and appropriates the benday dots to exemplify the stereotyped imagery.  By working on large scale canvases rivaling those of billboards he forces the trivialness onto his viewers.

During the 1950s Artists like Lichtenstein, Warhol and Oldenburg {who all had commercial art backgrounds} based their work on images from Times Squareneon signs, the mass media and advertising.

Pop art made iconic images of things like hamburgers, toilets, lipstick tubes and lawnmowers.  Common consumables now interjected into the art world simply because of their chronic consumption by the American population, art imitates life right?

above and below from here.

Pop art was easy to like.  Who can resist shiny colors and clean designs?  The mechanical quality of the paintings gave the pieces glossy familiarity.  Meanwhile, galleries full of Abstract Expressionism were left behind.  One jealous gallery posted a sign next to Warhol’s soup can exhibit, “Get the real thing for 29 cents”

Pop art was a merging of clever marketing and consumer culture.  Creating Master Artists in an instant. 

Andy Warhol (1930-87) is a name every household knows, not just those associated with the art world. 

from here.

He chose his subject matter based on what he saw in the grocery store.  Magazine covers with Marilyn Monroe on the cover, or Campbell’s soup cans reproduced in his assembly line of a studio.  The Silk Screening technique he used made it easy reproduce his images over and over again. 

“Once you being to see Pop, you can’t see Americain the same way.” - Andy Warhol

Not only did Warhol force people to reexamine their everyday surroundings, he made a point about the loss of identity in an industrial society.  His commentary is not something I agree with, but in his direct approach to everything industrialized there I am in direct opposition, it’s almost as if he could be sarcastic with his thoughts, and yet, he’s not.  Which is actually quite depressing to me…

He wanted to be a machine, that’s why he worked the way he did, he's also said that he wanted everyone to look alike and think alike {what a depressing thought to me as an artist}

How disturbing it must have been inside his head.  I look at his work as a direct reminder of what mass marketing leads to.  I think of the work as a satire to daily life, even if that’s not always what the artist intended.

From all I know about Andy Warhol the thing he wanted most in life was fame.  He predicted that everyone would have at least 15 minutes of fame.  His lasted for 25 years of his life and continues on to this day, as you can see from a recent photograph I took featuring pillows and dresses with his iconic imagery silk screened onto them.

Image from a store front in Venice. 2009.

The majority of information above is from The Annotated Mona Lisa, a Crash Course in Art History from Prehistoric to Post-Modern. By Carol Strickland, Ph.D.

More information about Pop Art here.

And a list of more pop artists:

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