Pop Art Characteristics

Pop Art, an abbreviation of ‘popular art’, is a movement inspired by popular culture that originated in England in the 1950s and traveled overseas to the United States during the 1960s. The term Pop art was first used by the English critic, Lawrence Alloway, describing all post-war work centered on consumerism and materialism .

Pop Art made commentary on contemporary society and culture, particularly consumerism, by using popular images and icons and incorporating and re-defining them in the art world. Often subjects were derived from advertising and product packaging, celebrities, and comic strips . The images are presented with a combination of humor, criticism and irony. In doing this, the movement put art into terms of everyday, contemporary life. It also helped to decrease the gap between "high art" and "low art" and eliminated the distinction between fine art and commercial art methods.

Much of Pop Art is considered incongruent, as the conceptual practices that are often used make it difficult for some to readily comprehend. Pop Art is considered to be art movement that precede Postmodern Art , or are some of the earliest examples of Postmodern Art themselves.

The origins of Pop Art in North America and Great Britain developed differently. In America, it marked a return to hard-edged composition and representational art as a response by artists using impersonal, mundane reality, irony and parody to defuse the personal symbolism and "painterly looseness" of Abstract Expressionism. By contrast, the origin in post-War Britain , while employing irony and parody, was more academic with a focus on the dynamic and paradoxical imagery of American popular culture as powerful, manipulative symbolic devices that were affecting whole patterns of life, while improving prosperity of a society. Early Pop Art in Britain was a matter of ideas fueled by American popular culture viewed from afar, while the American artists were inspired by the experiences, of living within that culture.

With its ready-mades and its happening (performance events), Pop art was a descendent of Dada (Dadaism). Even though Pop Art and Dadaism explored some of the same subjects, Pop Art replaced the destructive, satirical, and anarchic impulses of the Dada movement with detached affirmation of the artifacts of mass culture . Among those artists seen by some as producing work leading up to Pop Art are Pablo Picasso, Marcel Duchamp, Kurt Schwitters, and Man Ray.

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