POP ART - Origin, Difference and Top POP ARTs in the World

Since making its colorful debut in the 1950s, Pop Art has remained a prominent artistic movement. Thanks to the innovations of well-known masters like Andy Warhol, David Hockey, and Keith Haring, the one-of-a-kind genre marked the end of modernism and celebrated the onset of contemporary art.

Key pieces of Pop Art helped to facilitate this significant shift in artistic sensibilities. From Richard Hamilton's unconventional collage that sparked the movement to Roy Lichtenstein's most iconic comic book adaptation, these experimental masterpieces prove that popular culture is more than meets the eye.

The Pop art movement is especially well known for the iconic work of Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein. However these are often misunderstood. Pop art developed simultaneously in the UK and in the United-States.

What is Pop Art?
Pop Art is a distinctive genre of art that first “popped” up in post-war Britain and America. Primarily characterized by an interest in popular culture and imaginative interpretations of commercial products, the movement ushered in a new and accessible approach to art. Ranging from quirky to critical, the pieces produced by Pop artists in the 1950s and 1960s commented on contemporaneous life and events.

In addition to the unique iconography itself, the artists' treatment of the subject matter helps to define the genre. Renowned for its bold imagery, bright color palette, and repetitive approach inspired by mass production, the movement is celebrated for its unique and recognizable style.

Pop art is an artistic movement which appeared in England in the mid 50’s and concurrently in the United States a bit later towards the end of the decade. It emerged in opposition to the traditional approach the world had towards art. The movement claimed that elements and symbols of popular culture and mass consumption could be on par with fine arts. Pop art denatures the material from its environment by isolating the object or combining it with others of daily use. Known in the world as a major artistic movement of the 20th century, Warhol’s Marilyn became the emblem of pop art. It was characterized by topics emerging from western popular culture, especially American. Whether it be comic strips, ads, movie or music stars, everyday objects, and pop art is interpreted as a rejection of imagery of abstract expressionism (Jackson Pollock). The rather pejorative “pop” designation of the movement referred to pop music greatly rising during that period. It’s a message addressed to the elitist artistic culture which was waning from its lack of accessibility to the public on a visual and intellectual level. On a technical level, pop art differentiates itself by the use of mass serial reproduction of the artistic products.

American Pop Art
American pop art reached its peak in the 60’s. The world of advertisement and consumption had adopted and re-appropriated the codes of modern art. American artists thus had to push further their thought process by looking form more serious and in depth topics to distance art from manufactured artifacts. The British had a more distanced vision of American pop culture influenced by their European eye. This resulted in art characterized by it’ romanticism and proximity with emotions and laughter. Bombarded by daily publicity, and mass production of everyday objects American artists were bound to have a different tone. Coupled with the contested war in Vietnam, the resulting art was more brutal and aggressive. Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns were emblematic painters of American pop art. Echoing Kurt Schwitters’s Dadaist work, Rauschenberg delivered a clear criticism of contemporary society. Roy Lichtenstein is probably one of the masters of American pop art known for his humor, his comic book references, and use of texts within his productions. He defined his work as “hard-edged” but composed in a soft manner. Andy Warhol’s paintings, like Lichtenstein’s directly reference the familiar iconized image of American pop culture but treat the theme in an impersonal and cold manner. This treatment of art reflects and idealization and paradoxical hated of mass production.

Famous American Pop Artists
New York Pop Art
Roy Lichtenstein
Andy Warhol
Robert Indiana
George Brecht
Marisol (Escobar)
Tom Wesselmann
Marjorie Strider
Allan D’Arcangelo
Claes Oldenberg
George Segal
James Rosenquist
Rosalyn Drexler
California Pop Art
Billy Al Bengston
Edward Kienholz
Wallace Berman
John Wesley
Jess Collins
Richard Pettibone
Mel Ramos
Edward Ruscha
Wayne Thiebaud
Joe GoodeVon Dutch Holland
Jim Eller
Anthony Berlant
Victor Debreuil
Phillip Hefferton
Robert O’Dowd
James Gill
Robert Kuntz

British Pop Art
Artistic group “The Independent Group” (IG), founded in London in 1952 is considered the precursor to pop art. It gathered artists, painters, sculptors even architects, they shared same view points towards academic and traditional approach of fine arts. Eduardo Paolozzi presented in 1952 a series of collages called “Bunk” to other “members” of the IG. The elements used for these assemblages were taken from magazines and comics and other manufactured objects and logos. For the first time the word “pop” appears in one of the images of Paolozzi. “I was a Rich Man’s Plaything” where you can see a revolver surrounded with smoke and imagery of coca cola and on the forefront a pin up. Following the presentation of Paolozzi, this collective focused essentially on the codes and languages of American pop culture. The American influence is close, it has exported but is still distanced. They have a certain hindsight the American artists don’t have. They are principally interested in mass advertising. The term “pop art” was coined in an article written in 1956 by Alison and Peter Smithson for Arc.

Famous British Pop Artists
Independent Group (Institute of Contemporary Art)
Richard Hamilton
Edouardo Paolozzi
Peter Blake
John McHale
Lawrence Alloway
Peter Reyner Banham
Richard Smith
Jon Thompson

Young Contemporaries (Royal College of Art)
R. B. Kitaj
Peter Philips
Billy Apple (Barrie Bates)
Derek Boshier
Patrick Canfield
David Hockney
Allen Jones
Norman Toynton

Pop art was born in Great-Britain at a time where it was heavily influenced by American culture. A lot of the biggest names of the movement were American. There is thus a strong proximity and connection between the movement as it evolved in the US and in England. However, differences can be found. In the US, pop art is a return to compositions described as “hard-edged”, using mundane reality, popular culture, irony and sarcasm. On the other hand in England, the movement started out with a more academic vision. The focus was put on energetic and paradoxical figuration of American pop culture, as it can be find in the works of Richard Hamilton. They used parody and self-depreciation as a way to denounce the powerful western system of manipulation which affected societal behavior all the while bringing it to material prosperity. English pop art was fed by American culture but through the lens of distance, whereas American Pop art was the direct result of this “American dream”, a very central idea in American identity at the time.


Andy Warhol’s Marilyn Diptych, 1962
Andy Warhols Marilyn Diptych 1962

Roy Lichtenstein’s Whaam!, 1963
Roy Lichtensteins Whaam 1963

Keith Haring’s Radiant Baby, 1982
Pop Art Keith Harings Radiant Baby 1982
Keith Haring Pop Art

Richard Hamilton’s Just What Is It That Makes Today’s Homes So Different, So Appealing?, 1956
Richard Hamilton Pop Art

Robert Indiana’s LOVE, 1967.
Robert Indiana Pop Art LOVE 1967

Andy Warhol’s Marilyn Diptych, 1962
First Pop Art Piece Painting

Robert Rauschenberg, Estate (1963), oil and silkscreen in on canvas.
Robert Rauschenberg Pop Art Estate 1963

Jasper Johns, Three Flags (1958), oil on canvas. Whitney Museum of American Art
Jasper Johns Pop Art Three Flags 1958

Jim Dine, A Sign of its Pale Color, Tenderness (2015)
Jim Dine Pop Art A Sign of its Pale Color Tenderness 2015

Ray Johnson, History of Video Art (1960)
Ray Johnson Pop Art History of Video Art 1960

Alex Katz, Black Hat
Alex Katz Pop Art Black Hat

Spoonbridge and Cherry, sculpture by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen, 1985–88; in the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden of the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Spoonbridge and Cherry Pop Art Sculpture

Edward Ruscha, Trademark #7, (20th Century Fox), 1962
Edward Ruscha Pop Art Trademark 7 20th Century Fox 1962

James Rosenquist, President-Elect, 1960–61/1964, oil on linen. Centre Pompidou, Paris
James Rosenquist Pop Art President-Elect 1960611964

Peter Blake, Sources of Pop Art 7
Peter Blake Sources of Pop Art 7

Patrick Caulfield, Pottery
Patrick Caulfield Pop Art Pottery

David Hockney, Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures), 1972
David Hockney Pop Art Portrait of an Artist Pool with Two Figures 1972

Marjorie Strider’s 1963 Girl with Radish
Marjorie Striders Pop Art 1963 Girl with Radish

George Condo, The Cracked Cardinal (2001), oil on canvas
George Condo Pop Art The Cracked Cardinal 2001

The Defenders, 1963, Colby College Museum of Art, Waterville, Maine
The Defenders Pop Art 1963 Colby College Museum of Art Waterville Maine

James Francis Gill, Three Faces of Marilyn (2014), acrylic on canvas. Galerie Urs Reichlin
James Francis Gill Pop Art Three Faces of Marilyn 2014 acrylic on canvas Galerie Urs Reichlin

Marisol, “Women and Dog” (1963–64), on view in the Whitney Museum exhibition ‘America Is Hard to See’
Marisol Pop Art Women and Dog 196364 on view in the Whitney Museum exhibition America Is Hard to See

Jeff Koons, Popeye (2009–2011), mirror polished stainless steel with transparent color coating. Sonnabend Gallery, New York
Jeff Koons Pop Art Popeye 20092011 mirror polished stainless steel with transparent color coating

Banksy, Girl With Balloon (2006)
Banksy Pop Art Girl With Balloon 2006

Stik’s graffiti on a shopfront shutter in Shoreditch, London.
Stiks pop art graffiti on a shopfront shutter

Damien Hirst, Skull with Clocks in Eyes (2008), household gloss on canvas.
Damien Hirst and Science Ltd.

Damien Hirst Pop Art Skull with Clocks in Eyes 2008

Takeshi Murakami, Mr. dub And Bunny, digital art (2019)
Takeshi Murakami pop art Mr dub And Bunny digital art 2019

Nara Yoshimoto, Knife Behind Back (2000), oil on canvas
Nara Yoshimoto Pop Art Knife Behind Back 2000

Mimmo Rotella, Sempre lei Marilyn (2002), décollage on canvas
Mimmo Rotella Pop Art Sempre lei Marilyn 2002

Hariton Pushwagner, Re Traversa (Soft city) (1969), print on paper
Hariton Pushwagner Pop Art Re Traversa Soft city 1969

Dessert Tray, 1963, oil on canvas
Dessert Tray pop art 1963 oil on canvas

Peter Max, Marilyn, from the retrospective “The Collected Works 1960–2017”
Peter Max Marilyn from the retrospective The Collected Works 19602017

Niclas Castello, The Kiss (Shiny Red) (2013–2015). Courtesy of Guy Hepner
Niclas Castello pop art The Kiss Shiny Red 20132015