More Than Andy Warhol: 10 Pop Artists Of The '60s

By | August 1, 2019

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Left: detail of 'Buffalo II' by Robert Rauschenberg, 1964. Right: 'Smoker, 1 (Mouth, 12)' by Tom Wesselmann, 1967.

We've all seen Andy Warhol's Campbell's Soup Cans and Roy Lichtenstein's comic-book canvases -- the "Pop Art" movement that popped in the 1960s is practically defined by these images. But the genre is about more than these two -- dozens of artists achieved success creating memorable works we categorize as Pop Art.

And what is Pop Art, anyway? Well, it's probably the most diverse art movement of all time, as the crazy range of styles here display. One big idea in Pop Art is treating illustrations or commercial design as high art. That's the soup-can, comic-book kind of Pop -- the idea that a product made for mass consumption is as valid a subject for art as a landscape in the French countryside. Pop Art also directly lifts images from mass culture, pulling newspaper photos or movie stills into silkscreen prints or collages. 

The Pop Art movement emerged in the 1950s, according to some, in reaction to abstract expressionism (think Jackson Pollock). It challenged traditional fine art by incorporating elements in mass culture and found items as well. Several artists emerged as part of the movement.

Richard Hamilton: Early Innovator

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Richard Hamilton, 'Just what is it that makes today's homes so different, so appealing?' Source:

Although he is less known than Andy Warhol, British artist Richard Hamilton is one of the founders of the Pop Art movement. Born in London in 1922, Hamilton worked as an apprentice at a company that produced electrical equipment and then entered the Royal Academy to study art, but was kicked out because he was a poor student. After serving in he military, he went on to study at the Slade School of Fine Art. 

Hamilton's best known piece, the collage "Just what is it that makes today's homes so different, so appealing?," dates from 1956 and is the first famous work of Pop Art.

His philosophy considered the artist as a contributor to consumer culture and also addressed the role of the new technologies in people’s lives: they were frenetic and must have seemed very strange to the first generations using them. He thought that Pop Art would be "Popular, transient, expendable, low-cost, mass-produced, young, witty, sexy, gimmicky, glamorous, and Big Business." His art helped to bridge the gap between high art and the consumer culture. His influence can be seen in the works of every pop artist who came after him.