A history of Pop Art

‘Witty, Sexy, Gimmicky, Glamorous’, wrote the British painter Richard Hamilton of Pop Art in 1957. Coined two years earlier by the art critic Lawrence Alloway, the genre emerged in New York as artists embraced the post-World War II manufacturing and media boom.

Following on from the Abstract Impressionist movement, Pop Art rebelled against the themes of morality and mythology found in highbrow art, instead introducing identifiable imagery drawn from mass media and popular culture. Defined edges and emotional detachment were underpinned by the belief that everything is connected, from commercial advertising to mass production and even trash.

Through its vibrant colours and unabashed brazenness, Pop Art encompassed themes of celebrity, television, magazines and comic books to represent what artist Jim Dine termed ‘…the American Dream, optimistic, generous and naïve’. Pop Art’s international variants included Capitalist Realism in Germany, Anti-Art in Japan and Nouveau Réalisme in France.

Pioneers of the movement included James Francis Gill, Roy Lichtenstein and Eduardo Paolozzi, while famous artworks include James Rosenquist’s ‘President Elect’ (1960-71) and Andy Warhol’s ‘Campbell’s Soup I’ (1968).

Girls!

John D Wilson

Pop Art

Pascale Taurua

Mini Marilyn 1

James Francis Gill

OAB 0501

Western Pop Art

Real-life ranch sorting world champion Billy Schenck is known as the 'Warhol of the West' for his exciting fusion of Navajo culture, modern-day cowgirls and tongue-in-cheek humour. 

His debut UK tour to launch The New West in November 2018 was followed by an appearance in GQ magazine. His work also featured in the comedy-drama film Ideal Home, starring Paul Rudd and Steve Coogan. 

Billy, who is credited as the founder of the Western Pop Art movement, says: "I wanted to do with my paintings what Sergio Leone had done with film. No other genre in the last 200 years can compete."

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'Posthumous Warhols'

A decade-long project to transform Andy Warhol's original acetates (film positives) has taken London-based artist Paul Stephenson around the world. 

Working alongside one of the Pop Art founder's master printers, Alexander Heinrici, Paul created his After Warhol collection using the same techniques and materials. For each piece, Paul blew up the original acetate before transferring the image to a larger canvas and using a squeegee to press the inks through a screen.

So faithful was his methodology that leading Warholian expert Rainer Crone dubbed them 'posthumous Warhols'.

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Paul Stepehenson 02

From the blog

Beatles-inspired art by James Francis Gill

02/10/2019

We are honoured to present a selection of silkscreens from the Pop Art pioneer James Francis Gill, featuring the Fab Four!

Cowboy art: Billy Schenck

18/02/2020

As the quintessential American hero, the lone cowboy has legendary status in popular culture. Find out how artists including Billy Schenck, Richard Prince and Frederic Remington have depicted the iconic figure.

Introducing the Bisaillon Brothers

28/01/2020

Shop the Pop Art inspired collection by American brothers Jeffrey and Michael Bisaillon. Their vibrant portfolio of original artworks is available now.

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