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Famous Artist Andy Warhol and Pop Art
Celebrities and Soup

What Is Pop Art?

The name Pop Art is a short version of the expression, popular mass culture. The goal of the movement was to use popular images in art rather than elitist subjects and to reach a broader audience. Pop artists were interested in presenting familiar everyday life as well as the nostalgic memories of childhood.

Love, pop art outdoor sculpture by famous artist Robert Indiana
Love by Pop Artist
Robert Indiana
Pop Art was an experimental form that various artists explored independently. It came to life as silkscreened images, collages, printmaking, film, shaped vinyl sculptures and Polaroid photo composites. It is identified by the artistic use of found objects and classical icons like money, product brands, flags and celebrities. The Pop Art movement builds upon the work of abstract expressionism and Dadaism. The art is detached rather than engaging. The artist often presents the same theme with variations in a series of works, such as Jim Dine’s Bathrobe Series. In spite of critical controversy, Pop Art is recognized as a legitimate art form, and is one of the major art movements of the twentieth century.

Pop Art Began In England

Just what is it that... pop art collage by famous artist Richard Hamilton
Pop Artist Richard Hamilton
Just What Is It That
The Pop Art movement started in England after World War II. The famous artists of English Pop Art, Richard Hamilton, Peter Blake and David Hockney rejected the label of Pop Art for their work, but the public identifies them with the movement. The first recognized pop art work was Richard Hamilton’s collage in 1956 entitled "Just what is it that makes today’s homes so different, so appealing?"

Famous Artists and Pop Art In America

Typewriter Eraser, pop art outdoor sculpture by famous artist Claes Oldenburg
Pop Artist Oldenburg
Typewriter Eraser
American pop art was fascinated with mass culture, advertisements, pin-ups, comics and cartoons. It includes words, speech balloons and contemporary symbols like flags and the dollar bill. The subjects of pop art are as diverse as newspaper clippings and soup cans, but the most significant influence is advertising. The artists rejected the idea that making art is a highly moral and serious calling.

The Pop Art of Roy Lichtenstein

Wham pop art painting by famous artist Roy Lichtenstein
Pop Artist Lichtenstein
Roy Lichtenstein began his Pop Art career by painting a picture of a dollar bill. Later his young son pointed to a Mickey Mouse comic book and said, “I bet you can’t paint as good as that”. This motivated him to use cartoon images and speech balloons, Ben Day dots and lettering, along with techniques derived from commercial printing. His most famous painting, "Whaam", one of the first examples of Pop Art, used a comic-book panel from a 1962 issue of DC Comics' "All-American Men of War". The painting shows a fighter aircraft firing a rocket into an enemy plane.

The Pop Art of Claes Oldenburg

Soft Bathtub pop art by famous artist Claes Oldenburg
Pop Artist Oldenburg
Soft Bathtub
Claes Oldenburg began painting while working at odd jobs. The turning point in his career was a series of giant soft sculptures made of vinyl stitched together by his wife Pat Oldenburg. The whimsical sculptures, like the "Soft Washstand", "Soft Bathtub" or the inflatable "Tube of Lipstick", were supposed to satirize the banality of American life, but they were sometimes erotic or scatalogical. His outdoor sculptures include "Typewriter Eraser", "Clothespin" and "Crusoe Umbrella". Born in Sweden in 1929, Oldenburg became a naturalized citizen of the United States and lived in Chicago and New York. Oldenburg and his wife were also active performance artists in New York happenings.

Other Famous American Artists of the Pop Art Movement

Flag pop art painting by famous artist Jasper Johns
Pop Artist Jasper Johns
Many of the pop artists lived around New York City and influenced each other. Some famous names associated with the Pop Art Movement in the United States are Ed Ruscha, James Rosenquist, Peter Max, Robert Rauschenberg and Englishman David Hockney. Jasper Johns is well known for his painting of the American flag titled Flag. Robert Indiana is famous for his image of the word love in upper-case letters, arranged in a square with a tilted letter O. Jim Dine, originally from Cincinnati, painted a series of bathrobes, a series of ties, a series of tools and a series of hearts, along with other work.

How Artist Andy Warhol Defined Pop Art

Campbell's Soup pop art painting by famous artist Andy Warhol
Campbell's Soup
by Andy Warhol
The most famous of the American Pop artists is Andy Warhol. Born in 1928 in Pittsburgh, as a child he was often ill with St. Vitus’ Dance, a nervous complication from scarlet fever, and spent his time drawing. He moved to New York and created a career in commercial art with his illustrations for record covers and women’s shoe ads. His art wasn’t critically recognized until a friend suggested that he should paint what he loved most. This prompted him to unleashed his series of Campbell Soup cans on the art world. Images of famous people like Marilyn Monroe, Chinese Communist leader Mao Zedong, Elvis Presley and Jackie Kennedy were used in multiples in his silkscreened works. Often the art was produced by assistants under his direction, who made his silkscreened multiples is different colors.

Warhol's most famous sculpture is probably his "Brillo Boxes", silkscreened bronze replicas of Brillo soap boxes. Other famous works include the "Silver Clouds"; made from helium filled, silver mylar balloons. He also is known for his drawings, films and erotic photographs.
In the future everybody will be world famous for fifteen minutes. – Andy Warhol
Audrey Hepburn pop art by famous artist Andy Warhol
Pop Artist Andy Warhol
Audrey Hepburn
Easily recognized with his frazzled platinum wig, Warhol became a celebrity in his own right. He was even mobbed at his own gallery exhibitions. He collaborated with artists like LeRoi Neiman and Jean-Michel Basquiat and was acquainted with every significant New York artist of the period.

His studio, called The Factory, was entirely covered in silver paint and aluminum foil. There he created more than 60 films starring acquaintances, dropouts and society girls, who were allowed to act out unscripted their traumas and addictions. One famous film shows a friend just sleeping for six hours. Warhol’s coterie nicknamed him Drella, a contraction of Dracula and Cinderella.

In 1968 Warhol was shot and seriously injured by a vengeful star from his film "Bike Boy". As an openly gay man in a period when few gays had declared themselves publicly, his lifestyle strongly influenced his films. But he refused to comment publicly about himself or his work.

Warhol co-founded the magazine Interview, which published interviews with his favorite literati and glitterati of New York. Much of his time was spent arranging celebrity interviews and selling advertising space for the magazine. Many celebrities commissioned him to paint their portraits, among them Mick Jagger, Liza Minnelli, John Lennon, Diana Ross, Brigitte Bardot, and Michael Jackson. Warhol was often a guest on television shows like Love Boat and Saturday Night Live and appeared in a movie with Richard Pryor.
Making money is art, and working is art and good business is the best art. – Andy Warhol
Andy Warhol led a gregarious lifestyle, meeting most of the artists and celebrities of his day. He collected antiques as prolifically as he collected people. Andy’s Journal was published from ten years of tape-recordings of his daily phone calls, which documented his out-of-pocket expenses for taxis and lunch, along with a fascinating commentary of the social life of New York. He attended regular Sunday Mass and described himself as a religious person. In 1987 he died in New York Hospital from complications after routine gall bladder surgery. He is buried in Saint John The Baptist Byzantine Catholic Cemetery near Pittsburgh.

The Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh holds more than 12,000 works by the artist. It is the largest American art museum dedicated to a single artist.

Warhol’s later work was sometimes criticized as superficial and commercial, without depth or meaning. Looking back, critics now admit that Warhol's work was in fact a brilliant and irresistible reflection of American culture.

I hope life brings you much success. I wish you a very happy day.
-----     Surfer Sam  

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