Sunday, September 17, 2006

Pop Art

Lawrence Alloway was the first to coin the phrase Pop Art. (Alloway.2006)
In his seminal essay
The Arts and Mass Media he outlined his reasons for representing every day objects in new and changing ways.

Alloway's framed his argument in the context of major societal changes in the mid 20th century. Industrialization led to a society where a majority were industrial workers. Influenced by Marxism Alloway saw the role of art to further the cause of working people.

Revolution and removal of the autonomous ideas of fine art aesthetics of the old elite class would leave a vacuum and eventually result in substitution of another set of values in the future, he argued. True establishment of a workers art form, he thought, should ideally focus and assert the present moment.

This Zen assertion on the now would show workers had taken hold of society's perspective on art and arrived at an ideal of political organization.

Richard Hamilton fell under
Alloway's influence.

Hamilton took the form of Alloway's ideas without attachment to the Marxist ideas, as he outlined  Pop Art should include the following principles:

It should be, popular, transient, expendable, low cost, aimed at a young audience, witty, gimmicky, sexy, glamorous and in opposition t
o Alloway big business.(Hamilton,( 2006)

Some of these qualities are seen in his his 1958 work $he.
$he arranges common place objects in close relation to parts of female anatomy. A woman's breasts are juxtaposed with the image of a mixer, hips with a toaster. A association is made between the idea of women and the world of appliances. This focus on mundane objects in association with an embodiment of femininity casts new light on everyday objects.

Andy Warhol is the best known artist of the Pop Art style. Warhol stripped the ideological underpinnings of Alloway's Aesthetic and embraced the importance of the present moment.

Warhol claimed the essential democracy of Capitalism led to production of the same products for all, in the way he claimed the same bottle of coke was available no matter the wealth of the person.(Warhol.(2006)

Warhol's 1962 Oil painting Green Coca-cola Bottles shows a familiar product in a new way.

The repetition of row after row of Coca-cola bottles creates a geometric shape out of a  conventional product. The viewer is forced to lo
ok at a Coke bottle in a multiple form. The number of bottles serve to underline the sheer amount of the product used in everyday life.  

 The image serves Warhol's desire to marry ideas of business with those of art. Warhol's capitalist bent contrasts to Alloway's Marxist beliefs but they both believe Pop Art should imbue the familiar with new perspective and reassert the importance of the present.

Bright primary colors in a familiar image underlined by repetition is seen Warhol's 1962 work 100 Cans .

This painting renews a popular soup brand. Images are stacked up and brought into close proximity so contours of the individual are lost.
The effect is also that of a flag -like image with its regularly changing pattern of red and white. The use of color is  unexpected. A familiar image of American marketing iconography is changed.

Warhol's 1966 work Cow Wallpaper is different take on a placid domestic animal.

The image of a cow's head is
rendered in multiple fashion in a hot pink. The youthful color adds excitement to an otherwise bland fixture of American husbandry.The image is re-invigorated and plays with expectations in a humorous way.

In Warhol's 1962 work Marilyn Diptych the image of an icon of American film is shown in multiple fashion with different shades of exuberant c
olor along side photo negative images of the same type.

The contrast between the bright colors and the monochrome of the negatives emphasizes both sides of the image. The hard realism of the monochrome alongside the cartoon like color of the other. Marilyn's image which is so familiar is altered and the viewer is forced to see it again.
Alloways ideas are confirmed.

Alloway did much to frame the ideas of Pop Art. There is a quality of Zen to his theory even when he intends it originally from a Marxist perspective. This quality itself was taken, used and most successfully illustrated in the works of Richard Hamilton and Andy Warhol.


Alloway, Lawrence. 'The Arts and Mass Media' Alloway, Lawrence .Wikipedia.
Hamilton, Richard. Letter to Peter and Alison Smithson(1957) Material Culture and Everydat Life. May 16(2006) 296-300 Warhol, Andy. Warhol in his Own Words: Untitled statements(1963-1987) Material Culture and Everyday Life. May 16(2006) 340-345

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