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Pop Art

Peter Blake
Late Period Clown #1: Rainbow, 2018
Acrylic, enamel, and inkjet print on board
93.8 x 93.8 cm (37 x 37 in.)
Courtesy of the artist and Garth Greenan Gallery, New York

Pop art emerged as a movement in 1950s Britain and the USA and became popular in the 1960s. Pop artists used a variety of media and styles, but their work shared a common criticism of post-war consumerism and an embrace of the everyday as a subject matter. Rejecting the highbrow attitudes of traditional art, pop artists focused instead on the imagery and products of the commodity-driven world around them.

British pop artist Richard Hamilton defined the characteristics of pop art as "Popular (designed for a mass audience), Transient (short-term solution), Expendable (easily forgotten), Low cost, Mass produced, Young (aimed at youth), Witty, Sexy, Gimmicky, Glamorous, Big business." Hamilton was part of "The Independent Group," a London-based collective of artists, architects, and design historians committed to bridging the gap between "high" and "low" culture. Other notable British pop artists include Peter Blake , Eduardo Paolozzi, Pauline Boty, and Richard Smith.

While British pop artists studied American culture from a distance, making their work more of an interpretation and critique of American consumerism, American pop art was representational to the extreme – a reaction to Abstract Expressionism. Pop artists such as Andy Warhol reproduced iconography from television, comic books, movies, and advertising, often using the same media from which those images were borrowed. Aside from Warhol, other famous American pop artists include Roy Lichtenstein, who used comic book imagery in his work, Claes Oldenburg, who created oversized sculptures of everyday objects, and James Rosenquist, who combined fragments of advertisements and popular cultural imagery with elements of surrealism.

At the time of its inception, pop art was met with criticism from traditionalists who were dismayed by its embrace of commercialism and popular culture. However, pop art resonated with a younger generation that was more in tune with the rapid changes in the world brought on by mass media and consumerism. By the end of the 20th century, pop art had gained critical acceptance as a significant art form that reflected the highly technological, mass-media-oriented society of the post-war West.

Pop art paved the way for subsequent art movements by breaking down barriers between high and low culture and inspiring artists to incorporate elements of popular culture into their work. Maria Qamar , for example, questions gender norms by pushing back against hegemonic culture through Desi-Pop, a pop culture derived from the countries India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. Qamar’s bright and colorful paintings have comical and ironic elements with rebellious and defiant energy that draws viewers into contemporary issues of South Asian communities.

Related categories

Mixed Media


Animation/Cartoon/Comic Books

(Inspired by) Mass Media

Scenes of Everyday Life

Everyday Objects


New York

(Inspired by) Popular Culture

Popular Culture Images

Mass Media Images

Daily Life Experience

Word as Image


American Art

Post-War American Art

20th Century Art

Found Objects

Surrounding Environment

Social Conflict

British Art

British Pop Art


Art of the 1950s

Art of the 1960s

Art after World War II


Desi-Pop Art

Artists of All Time

Personal/Social Identity