Pop Art Movement: History, Characteristics, Artwork

pop art movementPort Art is a movement that emerged in the mid-to-late 1950s in both the United States and the United Kingdom. Emerging in the mid 1950s in Britain and late 1950s in America, pop art reached its peak in the 1960s. By using imagery from popular art and mass cultures, such as advertisements, comic books, and commonplace mass produced objects, the movement challenged high art traditions. Its use of popular culture imagery in art emphasizes any culture’s banal or kitschy aspects, most frequently via irony. It is also connected to the artists’ mechanical replication or rendering methods. In pop art, elements are occasionally visibly removed from their familiar context, isolated, or merged.

Lawrence Alloway, a British curator who coined the term “Pop Art” in 1955 to designate a brand-new genre of art characterized by the imagery of consumerism, new media, and mass manufacturing. Pop art was one of the first art trends to bridge the gap between commercial and fine arts with its bold, straightforward, commonplace imagery and brilliant block colors. Pop Art painters drew inspiration for their hilarious, witty, and ironic works from advertisements, pulp magazines, billboards, movies, television, comic strips, and shop windows. These works are both a celebration and a critique of popular culture.

Pop Art marked a significant shift in modernism’s direction by reviving recognizable motifs from media and popular culture. Pop was born in the United Kingdom in the 1950s amid a postwar sociopolitical context where artists gravitated toward celebrating everyday objects and elevating the ordinary to fine art. Pop has roots in Neo-Dada and other groups that questioned the fundamental notion of “art” itself.

American Pop artists Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, billboard painter James Rosenquist, and others rejected conventional historical artistic subject matter in favor of the ubiquitous infiltration of mass-produced commodities and images that dominated the visual environment.Pop Art has evolved into one of the most recognizable modern art movements, maybe due to the inclusion of commercial imagery.

Pop artists promoted the post-World War II manufacturing and media boom. They did images of commonplace objects that anybody walking down Broadway could recognize in a split second—comics, picnic tables, men’s trousers, coke bottles celebrities, shower curtains, refrigerators—all the great modern things that the Abstract Expressionists tried so hard not to notice at all. Some critics have pointed to the Pop Art movement’s selection of images as an ardent supporter of the capitalist market and the products it disseminated.

Perhaps owing to the incorporation of commercial images, Pop Art has become one of the most recognizable styles of modern art. Key ideas of Pop art was to blur the boundaries between “high” art and “low” culture.

History of Pop art

Pop art is an art movement that emerged in the 1950s and flourished in the 1960s in America and Britain, drawing inspiration from sources in popular and commercial culture. Different cultures and countries contributed to the movement during the 1960s and 70s.

Beginnings of Pop Art – Early 1950s

In contrast to Great Britain, pop art’s beginnings in North America took a different path. Artists in the United States responded with pop art, a return to hard-edged composition and figurative painting. They used impersonal, everyday reality, irony, and satire to “defuse” the personal symbolism and “painterly looseness” of abstract expressionism. A few of Larry Rivers’, Alex Katz’s, and Man Ray’s works predated pop art in the United States.

While using sarcasm and parody, pop art’s beginnings in post-War Britain were more academic. The dynamic and paradoxical imagery of American popular culture was the focus of Britain’s attention because it was seen as a set of robust, manipulative symbolic techniques that were changing entire societal patterns of behavior while enhancing societal prosperity. From a distance, early pop art in Britain was influenced by American popular culture. In the same vein, pop art extended and rejected Dadaism. Dadaism and pop art both investigated a number of the same themes. Still, pop art substituted a detached acceptance of popular culture for the destructive, sarcastic, and anarchic tendencies of the Dada movement. A number of European artists, including Pablo Picasso, Marcel Duchamp, and Kurt Schwitters, are often cited as precursors to pop art.


Although both British and American pop art emerged in the 1950s, the movement was started by Marcel Duchamp and others in Europe, including Francis Picabia and Man Ray, as well as some earlier American proto-pop origins that made use of “as found” cultural items. Pop culture imagery—everyday objects taken from American commercial products and advertising design—was incorporated into paintings by American painters Patrick Henry Bruce, Gerald Murphy, Charles Demuth, and Stuart Davis during the 1920s, practically “prefiguring” the pop art movement.

Great Britain: The Independent Group

A group of young painters in London, known as the Independent Group, started holding regular meetings in 1952 to discuss issues like mass culture’s role in fine art, the discovered object, and science and technology. Eduardo Paolozzi, Richard Hamilton, Alison, Peter Smithson, and critics Lawrence Alloway and Reyner Banham were among the group’s members. Early in the 1950s, Britain was still recovering from the post-war years of austerity, and its people had mixed feelings about American popular culture. Despite their mistrust of its commercial nature, the group was enthused by the expansive future that pop culture seemed to hold. They talked about iconography from Western films, science fiction, comic books, billboards, car design, and rock and roll music.

Several people have claimed to be the first to use the term “Pop Art” in writing, including Lawrence Alloway, Alison, Peter Smithson, and Richard Hamilton, who described it in a letter. Eduardo Paolozzi is credited with creating the first piece of art to use the term. His collage I Was a Rich Man’s Plaything (1947) featured cut-up pictures of cherry pie, a World War II bomber, a pinup lady, the Coca-Cola logo, a man clutching a gun, and the word “POP!” in a puffy white cloud.

I was a Rich Man's Plaything 1947 Sir Eduardo Paolozzi 1924-2005 Presented by the artist 1971 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/T01462
I was a Rich Man’s Plaything 1947 Sir Eduardo Paolozzi

New York City: The Emergence of Neo-Dada

By the middle of the 1950s, modernist painters in New York City had to decide whether to follow the Abstract Expressionists or defy the rigid formalism espoused by many schools of modernism. Jasper Johns was already challenging norms with abstract paintings that featured references to “things the mind already knows,” like targets, flags, handprints, letters, and numbers. Robert Rauschenberg combined more conventional materials like oil paint with found objects and photographs in his “combines” simultaneously. The Fluxus and “Happenings” movements also incorporate elements from their surroundings into their artwork. These artists then joined other individuals to form the Neo-Dada movement. Following the Neo-Dadaists’ footsteps, the now-classic New York Pop Art of Roy Lichtenstein, Claes Oldenburg, James Rosenquist, and Andy Warhol arose in the 1960s.

Rise and Development of Pop Art – Mid 1950s-Mid 1970s.

After the Neo-Dada movement’s use of found objects gave way to the Pop movement, artists became increasingly interested in incorporating elements of popular culture into their works. Although the Independent Group in London was the first to use “pop” to describe art, American artists quickly followed suit. They started incorporating popular culture into their works. All of the artists share the underlying subject of popular cultural images, despite the enormous variations in their different approaches. The Capitalist Realist movement in Germany and the Nouveau Réalisme movement in France began shortly after American Pop Art appeared in the art world.

The End of Pop art-1970s

Pop art lost popularity in the 1970s as the art world turned its attention away from actual art objects and toward installations, performances, and other types of less tactile art. However, the popularity of painting returned around the end of the 1970s and the beginning of the 1980s, and popular culture offered subjects that were simple for audiences to recognize and comprehend.

Characteristics of Pop Art

Pop art characteristics include recognizable imagery, bright colors, irony and satire, innovative techniques, and mixed media and collage.  See below for details about each characteristic:

Recognizable imagery

Since Pop art was designed for a mass audience, it made use of images and symbols from popular media and products. It featured advertisements on soup cans, street signs, celebrity pictures, newspapers, brand names, logos, and other common commercial goods.

Bright colors

Pop art is distinguished by its vivid, bright colors. Especially in Roy Lichtenstein’s body of work, the primary colors red, yellow, and blue were key pigments used in many well-known works.

Popeye (1961) by Roy Lichtenstein
Popeye (1961) by Roy Lichtenstein


Irony and satire

One of the primary elements of Pop art was humor. The theme is used by artists to comment on current events, mock fads, and question the status quo.

Innovative techniques

Many Pop artists used printmaking techniques, allowing them to produce many copies of their artwork swiftly. Silkscreen printing is a technique employed by Andy Warhol in which ink is applied onto paper or canvas using a mesh screen and a stencil. Roy Lichtenstein created his distinctive visual style using lithography or printing from a metal plate or stone. Pop artists frequently included imagery from other facets of popular culture, either altered or in its original form, in their creations. This kind of Appropriation art frequently collaborated with repetition to blur the line between high and low art, separating advertising and media from fine art.

Mixed media and collage

Pop artists frequently blended mediums and used several various materials. Artists Tom Wesselmann and Richard Hamilton blended seemingly unrelated images into a single canvas to produce a contemporary narrative style, much like Robert Rauschenberg, whose works foreshadowed the Pop art trend. Similar to this, Marisol is well recognized for her sculptures that depict figures using a wide range of various materials.

Pop Artists

Examples of some famous Pop artists include: Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Jasper Johns and Eduardo Paolozi.  See below for more information on each artist:

Andy Warhol

Andy Warhol


  • Born: August 6, 1928 Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S.
  • Died: February 22, 1987 (aged 58) New York City, U.S.
  • Education: Carnegie Institute of Technology (Carnegie Mellon University)
  • Known for: Printmaking, painting, cinema, photography
  • Movement: Pop art

American artist Andy Warhol is well-known in the Pop Art movement. Through the production of his unique silkscreens or serigraphies of modern and consumer icons, such as Marilyn Monroe in Marilyn Diptych (1962) or Campbell’s soup in Campbell’s Soup Cans (1962), Warhol’s artistic approach primarily responded to the mass-media culture of the late 1960s. He emerged from the poverty and obscurity of an Eastern European immigrant family in Pittsburgh to become a charismatic magnet for bohemian New York and eventually find a place in

Before beginning to exhibit his drawings of nudists in the 1950s, Andy Warhol first tried his hand at a lucrative career as magazine illustrator and graphic designer. He is known for his contentious yet significant work. Since his early years, when he worked in fashion magazines like Vogue, Warhol has been fascinated with fame, fashion, celebrity, and Hollywood. Andy Warhol’s artistic and visual style developed throughout his career through techniques used in commercial graphics. His use of the method is key to his creative production. Andy Warhol used a “bottom line” and printing technique to create his earliest drawings. He would then use this technique to create portraits of the most well-known celebrities during his time living in New York.

Andy Warhol experimented with the initial applications of the silk-screening technique based on pictures on various materials or surfaces. Warhol’s creative application enhanced the image quality and produced a more expressive portrayal. At the same time, Andy Warhol pioneered the Pop Art trend by incorporating bold, large-scale color sections. His work has a flat, graphic quality akin to media and advertising. It aims to capture the unique relationship that modern American society would have with these references to popular culture. “The best thing about a picture is that it never changes, even when the people in it do,” he once said. The conceptual films Andy Warhol made, like 1963’s Sleep, which examines his homosexuality and the relationship between time and the human body, helped him produce more art. His rise is sometimes compared to Pop art’s goal of bringing mainstream subjects and techniques into the elite galleries of high art. His greatest accomplishment was elevating his persona to the stature of a cultural icon, representing a brand-new level of renown and celebrity for a fine artist. Andy Warhol’s major works include: Campbell’s Soup I (1968), Coca-Cola (3) (1962), Gold Marilyn Monroe (1962), Sleep (1963), Orange Car Crash Fourteen Times (1963), Brillo Boxes (1964), and Mao (1973).

Andy Warhol held his first solo exhibition in Los Angeles in July 1962 at Irving Blum’s Ferus Gallery , where he showed 32 paintings of Campell’s soup cans, one for every flavor. His creations are now included in the permanent collections of numerous institutions, including the Art Institute of Chicago, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and the Tate Gallery in London. A significant retrospective of Warhol’s work was presented in 2019 at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. New York is the location of the Andy Warhol Foundation.

Roy Lichtenstein

Roy Lichtenstein


  • Born: October 27, 1923 New York City, U.S.
  • Died: September 29, 1997 (aged 73) New York City, U.S.
  • Education: Timothy Dwight School, Parsons School of Design[1]
  • Alma mater: Ohio State University
  • Known for: Painting, sculpture
  • Movement: Pop art

American visual artist Roy Lichtenstein was well-known for being a driving force behind the Pop art style. His artwork is influenced by the early 1960s stylization of comic books and commercials. Through parody, his works established the foundation of pop art. Inspired by the comic strip, Lichtenstein created precise compositions that often did double duty as documentation and parody. Both popular advertising and the comic book aesthetic have an impact on his work. His work was seen as “disruptive.” Pop art, in his words, is “not ‘American’ painting, but rather industrial painting.” In New York City, his works were displayed at the Leo Castelli Gallery.

Roy Lichtenstein was born in New York City and studied painting with Reginald Marsh at the Art Students League of New York. After the Second World War, Lichtenstein attended Ohio State University to further his education while creating paintings in the Abstract Expressionism style, which he had become familiar with while serving in the U.S. Army in France. Beginning with the first exhibition of his paintings at the Leo Castelli gallery in New York in the early 1960s, Lichtenstein rose to fame with pieces like Drowning Girl (1963).

The mastery of the black line that frames curving forms and the printing of comic strips on these enormous canvases are characteristics of Roy Lichtenstein’s artistic technique. Ben-day printing, a halftone printing method (by lines of dots) that enables the creation of color without gradients is paired with a pallet of vibrant colors that exudes a strong sense of expression. His artworks are composed in accordance with the quadrilateral vignette and text bubble insertion codes. Frequent dramatic stories give the characters life, which Roy Lichtenstein balances with a gorgeous design expressed in women who follow the fashions of the era’s American stars. He hopes to convey through his paintings his passionate interest in life, love, and death, as well as in contemporary American society.

As a leading Pop artist Roy Lichtenstein is in his ability to turn the fictional storytelling of comic strips into a profoundly personal aesthetic creation and satirical examination of the American Dream. Roy Lichtenstein’s paintings are currently on exhibit in the Art Institute of Chicago collections, The Museum of Modern Art in New York, The National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., and the Tate Modern in London.

Jasper Johns

Jasper Johns


  • Born: May 15, 1930 (age 92) Augusta, Georgia, U.S.
  • Known for: Painting, printmaking
  • Notable work: Flags, Numbers, Maps, Stenciled Words
  • Movement: Abstract expressionism, Neo-Dada, pop art

The witty, enigmatic paintings by Jasper Johns question how we perceive and understand the world. Johns began using ubiquitous signs, such as flags and targets, the subject of his artwork, in the middle of the 1950s. He did this intentionally to avoid creating art that was removed from daily life. Johns and his Neo-Dada partner Robert Rauschenberg developed a sophisticated work of art that appealed to ideas of autobiography, irreverence, and philosophical engagement by parodying the conflicting precedents of Dada and Abstract Expressionism.

Johns combined abstraction with representation by using commonplace symbols like flags and targets. Both flags and targets are naturally flat, so when used as the subject for advanced painting, they draw attention to the picture pane’s flatness, a fundamental belief of Modernists like Clement Greenberg. However, because Johns’ use of them also references popular culture, it goes against and subverts ideas of Modernist abstraction.

Although many aspects of Abstract Expressionism may be seen in Johns’s works, he does not give them the same depth of psychological or existential meaning that his forebears did. Instead, he copies the gestural expressive brushstroke, adopting the notion that the artist’s mark is just another symbol or technique that enhances the variety of meanings and interpretations in his paintings.

Jasper Johns adopted prior Dadaist ideals of challenging the status quo of art in various ways. Johns began a creative dialogue between the piece and the viewer, intended to be resolved in the viewer’s mind, much like his forerunner, Marcel Duchamp. From the 1950s to the present, Jasper Johns’ work has significantly impacted almost every artistic trend. He effectively created the groundwork for Pop Art’s embracing of commodity culture by dissolving the barriers that have traditionally separated fine art from ordinary life. Johns’ investigation of semiotics and perception also paved the way for conceptual art and more postmodern interventions in the 1980s. In comparison, his multimedia collaborations with John Cage and Merce Cunningham heralded the triumph of performance art in the 1960s and 1970s.

Richard Hamilton

Richard Hamilton


  • Born: 24 February 1922 Pimlico, London, England
  • Died: 13 September 2011 (aged 89) London, England
  • Education: Royal Academy, Slade School of Art, University College London
  • Known for: Collage, painting, graphics
  • Movement: Pop art

Richard Hamilton was the founder of Pop art and a visionary who outlined its aims and ideals. A lollipop from one of his early collages furnished the movement with its title. He was the first artist to use visual juxtapositions in the 1950s to depict the frantic energy of television. Richard Hamilton belonged to the Independent Group, a collection of authors and painters at the Institute of Contemporary Arts who, via their symposiums, helped to shape British Pop art in the 1950s. He pioneered in applying critic Lawrence Alloway’s concept of a “fine/pop art continuum.” This, according to Hamilton, meant that there was no hierarchy of worth and that all work was equal.

Richard Hamilton’s works serve as a reminder of how alien the vacuum cleaner, tape recorder, and radio must have seemed to the first generations to use them. The British artist defined “pop art” as being “popular, fleeting, replaceable, cheap, mass-produced, young, humorous, seductive, gimmicky, flashy, and Big Business.” Although less well-known than Andy Warhol, Hamilton set the foundation for Pop art and established its ambitions and ideals.

Eduardo Paolozzi

eduardo paolozzi


  • Born: 7 March 1924 Leith, Edinburgh, Scotland
  • Died: 22 April 2005 (aged 81) London, England
  • Education: Edinburgh College of Art, University of Edinburgh Slade School of Fine Art, UCL
  • Known for: Sculpture, art
  • Movement: Pop art

The prolific and creative artist Eduardo Paolozzi is most recognized for fusing early Surrealism ideas with avant-garde components of popular culture, modern equipment, and technology. He was raised in the shadow of World War II in a family profoundly impacted by the polarizing nature of a nation at war, which sparked his lifelong investigation of how people are influenced by outside, uncontrolled factors. This investigation would later serve as the foundation for a massive and diverse body of work that oscillated between the negative and positive effects of society’s developments and purported progress.

Eduardo Paolozzi would produce abstract sculptures depicting man as only an assembly of components in a larger machine and were dark and cruel in both material and shape. He produced more colorful collages and highlighted how modern culture and the media shaped personal identity. Some of these collages inspired the later Pop art movement since they appropriated the style and aesthetic of American advertising.

Eduardo Paolozzi was greatly influenced by surrealism and cubism, and traces of each are evident in all of his work—regardless of the medium—in the way he continued to combine contrasting imagery, jumbled forms, and subconscious debris. I was a Rich Man’s Plaything by Eduardo Paolozzi, which first used the word “pop” in 1947, is regarded as the first work of Pop Art. In 1952, he presented the collage as part of his ground-breaking Bunk! Series at the London meeting of the Independent Group.

Pop Artwork

The major pop artworks include: I Was a Rich Man’s Plaything (1947), Just What Is It That Makes Today’s Homes So Different, So Appealing? (1956), Drowning Girl (1963), President Elect (1960-61), and Campbell’s Soup Cans (1962).

I Was a Rich Man’s Plaything

I was a Rich Man's Plaything 1947 Sir Eduardo Paolozzi 1924-2005 Presented by the artist 1971 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/T01462
I was a Rich Man’s Plaything 1947 Sir Eduardo Paolozzi 1924-2005 Presented by the artist 1971 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/T01462


  • Artist: Sir Eduardo Paolozzi
  • Year: 1947
  • Medium: Printed papers on card
  • Dimensions: Support: 359 × 238 mm
  • Location: Tate Gallery.

I Was a Rich Man’s Plaything exhibits an interest in modern American culture and consumer culture, exemplified by the Coca-Cola advertisement in the bottom right corner, much like Andy Warhol’s later works. The piece combines popular culture artifacts, including a pulp fiction book cover, a Coca-Cola advertisement, and a military recruitment poster. Roy Lichtenstein, whose paintings frequently took the appearance of cartoons, may have been inspired by the cartoonish font of the “POP!’

I Was a Rich Man’s Plaything is an excellent example of British Pop Art’s darker side, focusing more on the contrast between American popular culture’s glitter and wealth and British reality’s economic and political misery. Paolozzi, a member of the loosely affiliated Independent Group, stressed the influence of technology and mass culture on high art. His collage shows the influence of Dadaist and Surrealist photomontage, which Paolozzi used to replicate the deluge of mass media images encountered daily.

From a 2022 perspective, the collage could be seen as problematic and sexist. The woman dressed provocatively in a red dress and depicted as the target of masculine desire, is shown grinning carelessly. At the same time, a gun is fired (probably by a man) at her head. The reference to femicide is disturbing even though the joyful “POP!” implies that the pistol is just a toy since men continue to objectify, abuse, and even kill women.

The figure is referred to as a “Woman of the Streets” and a “Daughter of Sin,” which suggest a different perspective. The woman’s virginity may be symbolized by the cherry, which was “popped” by the rich man in the story, who used her as his plaything until he got weary of her. Given that she is his “Ex-Mistress,” the gun is interpreted in this interpretation as a phallic symbol, and the title assumes a sad connotation. The military aircraft in the bottom left corner represents male virility. Could “Keep ’em flying!” in this context also have another meaning?

Just What Is It That Makes Today’s Homes So Different, So Appealing?


Just what is it that makes todays home so different, so appealing 1956. Peter Hamilton.


  • Artist: Richard Hamilton
  • Year: 1956
  • Type: Collage
  • Dimensions: 26 cm × 24.8 cm (10.25 in × 9.75 in)
  • Location: Kunsthalle Tübingen, Tübingen

Richard Hamilton’s collage is frequently considered the very first piece of the Pop Art movement and was a key work in developing the genre. Hamilton’s image, created for the 1956 Whitechapel Gallery exhibition This is Tomorrow in London, was featured in both the exhibition’s catalog and promotional posters. A bodybuilder and a burlesque dancer in the collage stand in for an updated Adam and Eve, surrounded by modern conveniences, including a vacuum cleaner, canned ham, and a television. Hamilton produced a household interior scenario that both praised materialism and criticized the excess that was a hallmark of the American post-war economic boom years using a variety of cuts from magazine advertising.

Drowning Girl

Drowning Girl (1963) Roy Lichtenstein


  • Artist: Roy Lichtenstein
  • Year: 1963
  • Medium: Oil and synthetic polymer paint on canvas
  • Dimensions: 171.6 cm × 169.5 cm (67+5⁄8 in × 66+3⁄4 in)
  • Location: Museum of Modern Art, New York City

In the artwork Drowning Girl, the female figure would rather submit to the ocean’s might than ask for help. The subject’s head, shoulder, and hand, barely above the water, are the only pieces of her body that remain in Roy Lichtenstein’s depiction of the scene. Her eyes are closed, but there are drips of what look to be tears coming from them as her face is shown. The viewer is left in the dark about what occurred before this point and what will happen next because Lichtenstein only shows one frame. In addition, there is no opportunity for the audience to learn anything about Brad or why she is hesitant to call him.

To create completely new, dramatic compositions, Roy Lichtenstein used a sophisticated process that entailed cropping photographs, as shown in Drowning Girl, whose source image had the woman’s boyfriend standing on a boat above her. The text in the comic book panels was also reduced by Lichtenstein, who saw language as a further essential visual component. By borrowing this iconic component of commercial art for his paintings, he further questioned preconceived notions about what constitutes “high” art. The method used by Roy Lichtenstein involved “strengthening of the composition’s formal features, a stylization of motif, and a ‘freezing’ of both emotion and actions.”

Like the rest of Pop Art, Roy Lichtenstein frequently leaves the interpretation of his works up to the viewer, leaving it unclear whether he is praising the comic book picture and the larger cultural context to which it belongs or criticizing it. However, in Drowning Girl, it is clear that the woman’s predicament is being mocked (as evidenced by her absurd response).

President Elect

President Elect


  • Artist: James Rosenquist
  • Year: 1960–61/1964
  • Medium: Oil on Masonite.
  • Dimensions: 24 × 36 in | 61 × 91.4 cm
  • Location: Centre Georges Pompidou, Musée National d’Art Moderne/Centre de Création Industrielle.

James Rosenquist was fascinated by how political and cultural characters were made popular in the media, just like many other Pop artists. John F. Kennedy’s face is depicted in the artist’s work President Elect among various consumer goods, including a yellow Chevrolet and a piece of cake. The three components were taken out of their original context in the mass media by Rosenquist, who then collaged them and monumentally, photo-realistically reconstructed them. As explained by James Rosenquist, “The face was from Kennedy’s campaign poster. I was very interested at that time in people who advertised themselves. Why did they put up an advertisement of themselves? So that was his face. And his promise was half a Chevrolet and a piece of stale cake.” The large-scale piece is an excellent example of Rosenquist’s ability to use popular iconography to include political and social commentary and his technique for blending, interconnecting, and juxtaposing distinct images.

Campbell’s Soup Cans



  • Artist: Andy Warhol
  • Year: 1962
  • Medium: Synthetic polymer color on canvas
  • Dimensions: 20 by 16 inches (51 cm × 41 cm) each for 32 canvases
  • Location: Museum of Modern Art. Acquired through the Lillie P. Bliss Bequest, New York

Andy Warhol is well known for appropriating familiar imagery from popular culture and mass media, such as celebrity and tabloid news pictures, comic strips, and, in this work, the popular Campbell’s Soup Company canned soup. In 1962, when he first presented Campbell’s Soup Cans, the canvases were arranged side by side on shelves to resemble the items in a shopping aisle. At the time, Campbell’s offered 32 various types of soup; hence, each of Warhol’s 32 canvases represents a different flavor. (In 1897, the business debuted tomato as its initial flavor.)

The canvases for Campbell’s Soup Cans are hand-painted, and the fleur de Lys design surrounding each can’s bottom border is hand-stamped, even though they resemble the mass-produced, printed advertisements by which Warhol was inspired. Warhol deliberately repeated the identical picture across each canvas, imitating the repetition and uniformity of advertising. He just changed the labels on the front of each can, giving each a unique look. I used to drink Campbell’s soup, Warhol stated of the product. I used to eat the same lunch every day for perhaps, 20 years—always the same thing.

After finishing Campbell’s Soup Cans at the end of 1962, Andy Warhol began using the photo-silkscreen technique. His distinctive media, a printmaking procedure initially developed for commercial use, would bring his art-creating processes closer to those of commercials. He argued that art should be accessible to most Americans rather than just a small group.

American Pop Art vs. British Pop Art

Although American and British Pop Art shared these fundamental principles, their styles differed in important ways. While American Pop Art was a direct response to the “American dream” narrative they were experiencing from “within,” British Pop Art was affected by it from a distance. The irony and disconnection they perceived between the “dream” and the actual “reality” of the average American at the time, which the American pop musicians were directly experiencing, seemed to be purposefully emphasized by them. A prime illustration of this is Andy Warhol’s creative output. His well-known works “Campbell’s Soup Cans (1962)” and “Marilyn Monroe (1967)” capture and attack the two main facets of the American dream: unrestrained capitalism and the flimsy pop culture that the “dream” urges everyone to pursue.

Richard Hamilton, a British pop artist, responded to the same theme from the other side of the Atlantic. Still, he did it by using actual magazine clippings from American illustrated publications as a mirror to parody the ‘American dream’ consumer society openly. In his 1956 essay “Just What Is It That Makes Today’s Homes So Different, So Appealing?” he addresses this question. The television, a vacuum cleaner with an extremely long hose, a large tin of ham, and the crest of the Ford Motor Company all come together to create a somewhat amusing but ominous illustration of the growing materialistic values that were beginning to leave America and start influencing other cultures (such as Britain themselves).

British Pop Art

British pop art sought to shake up a stale artistic tradition in which artworks were frequently associated with emotive, mythical, or religious themes. This need for change has inspired pop art. However, most of its inspiration came from the Dadaist language to produce absurd combinations of random images that react from dawn to dusk. The boisterous, lively, and brazen world of contemporary culture, entertaining, and risk-taking situations provided British Pop musicians with their original inspiration. By depicting contemporary humor and giving their subjects fresh energy, modern pictures started to challenge the historical boundaries of art. In Britain, the movement was more academic in its approach. While employing irony and parody, it focused more on what American popular imagery represented, and its power in manipulating people’s lifestyles.

Although British pop art extensively uses American publicity from the post-World War II consumer boom, it remains distinct from American pop art. It’s because an estranged American popular culture influenced early pop art in the UK. In contrast, American artists were mostly inspired by what they saw and experienced in their society. Later, when London’s swinging music and fashion cultures grew, British artists also started to include their own country’s culture.

British Pop artists were able to create works employing modern advertising and design procedures, such as screen printing and graphic design, in their works honoring adverts, albums, and web pages from notable publications, posters, catalogs, and other advertising tied to marketing. British pop art successfully removed the barrier between high and low art by creating connected works that altered the resonance inside the average person.

American Pop Art

American pop art has a history of being bold, iconic, and nameless. Due to its greater subjectivity and use of references, American Pop art portrayed a rather romantic image of Pop culture that may have been encouraged by England’s relative isolation. Pop culture artists in England typically dealt with popular technology as themes or metaphors; some American pop musicians appeared to live with similar ideas. For instance, Warhol’s tagline, “I think everyone deserves to be a machine,” indicates his desire to create art that a machine could have produced.

Pop art developed somewhat differently in America than it did in Britain. American Pop Art was an evolution and reaction to Abstract Expressionist art. The first American art trend in history was abstract expressionism, but by the middle of the 1950s, many people thought it had become too meditative and aristocratic. By incorporating the image into the real world as a structural element in the painting, American Pop Art began as a hesitant attempt to counteract this tendency. It was an earlier version of the vehicle.

As he worried that his paintings were becoming too abstract, Pablo Picasso had done something similar forty years earlier when he collaged real-world’ printed images onto his still lifes. Around 1955, Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg emerged and built a bridge between Pop Art and Abstract Expressionism. By using impersonal, mundane subject matter, pop artists also wanted to move away from the emphasis on personal feelings and personal symbolism that characterized abstract expressionism.

What Art Movements Influenced Pop Art?

Pop Art was influenced by Abstract Expressionism, which had previously dominated the arts. Pop Art challenged the notion that art is the unique expression of an artist’s brilliance by allowing creators to use pictures and combinations of commonplace objects to bring back bits and pieces of reality.

The pop art movement, which started as a revolt against conventional art forms, was also influenced by popular and commercial culture in the west. Pop artists turned to modern mass culture for inspiration because they believed that the art displayed in museums or taught in classrooms did not accurately depict the actual world.

What Art Movements Were Influenced by Pop Art?

Artists such as Andy Warhol maintained a larger-than-life presence in the New York art world well into the 1980s, demonstrating the enduring legacy of Pop Art. Pop became increasingly unpopular as the art world switched its attention away from art objects and toward installations, performances, and other non-objective forms of art in the 1970s. Painting, however, saw a renaissance during the end of the 1970s and into the early 1980s, bringing the art object back into favor.  The artist Jeff Koons led the Neo-Pop charge, whose use of mass-produced items like Hoover vacuum cleaners and pop culture icons like Michael Jackson pushed the frontiers of high art even further.

Takashi Murakami, a Japanese artist known for his Superflat style and collaborations with high-end fashion houses like Louis Vuitton, is often regarded as a contemporary example of Neo-Pop in the country. As they do so, artists further erode the distinction between high and low art and rethink the value of art as an object.

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