The sixties were a time of great experimentation but not just in music. Whether it was film, photography, media studies or theatre, the sixties seemed to encourage experimentation instead of inhibiting it. The world of art did not get by unscathed. Pop Art emerged from the mid-Fifties as an art form that combined the everyday objects of mass commercialism with images from things such as comics, advertisements and the mass media. The zenith of the pop world and the art world combining had to be the commissioning of artist Peter Blake to design the cover of The Beatles’ Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album. Some of the greatest proponents of Pop Art were Jasper Johns, Roy Lichtenstein and of course Andy Warhol (whom I quote in the title to this post).
A great introduction to the world of Pop Art can be found at the Web Museum, Paris as well as the Artlex Art Dictionary. For a pretty thorough run down of those artists considered to be “Pop” check out the Index of Pop-Artists. Now, according to my trusty Art: A Crash Course in 1957 artist Richard Hamilton wrote Pop’s 11 commandments:
Let Pop be:
1. Popular (designed for a mass audience)
2. Transient (short-term solution)
3. Expendable (easily forgotten)
4. Low Cost
5. Mass Produced
6. Young (aimed at youth)
11. Big Business
But what happened? It seems like the artists involved definitely made the art form expendable because to me the only time I hear about Pop Art is when there is some kind of retrospective on the Sixties at the local fine arts museum. How could something supposedly so vibrant disappear with only a lasting, hazy memory? Did Pop Art fragment much like rock and roll did with all kinds of new niches and genres? Did it die when artists like Andy Warhol did? Or was it all just a brief, bizarre off-shoot of a cultural revolution that soured by the time the Seventies came around? I have no clue but it is an interesting thing to speculate about and I did come to one conclusion. As I surf the Internet these days keeping in mind these 11 Pop Art commandments, I sometimes think that the ‘Net itself is quite possibly the greatest manifestation of Pop Art ever created. Think about it. It fulfills every single one of those commandments in spades! Maybe Pop Art no longer resides on a canvas but on that Mac computer screen sitting in front of you. Now does that make me a Pop Artist? I hope so just because it sounds cool. “Oh look there’s Mark the Pop Artist.” Back to my electronic canvas I go!