American Pop Art Artists
By Editorial Staff
Contributed by Info Guru Aurora LaJambre
Pop art hit our shores in the late 1950s, and has amused, fascinated and wowed viewers ever since.
The first images that come to mind likely include a series of candle soup cans or collages pieced together from magazine and poster cutouts.
By appropriating iconic people and mass produced images, these top ten American pop art artists have created a playful body of work that infuses fine art with the shocking energy of popular culture.
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10. Romero Britto
At some point everything becomes new again, especially pop art! Romero Britto merges pop with cubism and other styles to create fun, distinctive designs on objects ranging from Britto-interpreted figurines and tote bags to picture frames. The combinations of colors and patterns make you feel like you’re living in a wild dream world.
9. All the little buggers
American pop art artists appropriate and use found objects in their work. Sooooo remember that colorful crayon masterpiece Junior contributed to the living room wall last week? It’s a masterpiece in progress. Just wait till he adds some found cookie crumbles, or smears a little peanut butter into the mix. Don’t worry about the smell and slow decay. It’s all part of “the process”.
8. Robert Indiana
You may not know Robert Indiana by name, but you have most likely seen his work on the classic “LOVE” stamps and in public spaces. His subjects are often short words. Images consist of stacked, block letters against a colorful background. His most recognizable pieces include LOVE and HOPE, the latter for President Obama’s 2008 campaign.
7. James Rosenquist
As one of the forces behind the American pop-art movement, James Rosenquist applied his training as a billboard painter to large paintings that skewed towards shocking humor. No quiet landscapes here. His subjects were often familiar things like white bread with yellow mustard and baby dolls.
6. Claes Oldenburg
If you’ve seen Claes Oldenburg’s public work in person, you’ve experienced what it’s like to see everyday objects shift from the mundane to the whimsical in a blink. On second sight, you realize he’s magnified the size, transporting you simply by altering an expected sense of scale, like a larger than life lipstick. There’s often a playful element to his installations that invites the viewer to participate by, say, sitting beside a smiling statue that seems to be looking right at you.
5. Roy Lichtenstein
At first sight, Roy Lichtenstein’s paintings may resemble old timey comic strips than high art worth millions of dollars. But look again. His style influenced generations of advertising and comic illustrators, and forced people to re-think where they draw the line between art and commercial graphics. Not sure if this is art? Walk through New York’s Museum of Modern Art and you’ll see how much longer Drowning Girl holds your attention over many of the classic, but dull bowls of fruit.
4. Robert Rauschenberg
Robert Rauschenberg lived the kind of life many creative types dream of. Close friends with the brilliant choreographer Merce Cunningham and the astounding composer John Cage, he received the National Medal of Arts after a long career in the visual and performing arts. Many of his paintings include found objects and commercial images, but, unlike other collage artists, his style didn’t force a narrative on the viewer. You can stare and stare and walk away with a different impression every time you see them.
3. Jasper Johns
Working in sculpture, printmaking and painting, Jasper Johns created deceptively detailed work. His style is partly considered pop because he chooses iconic objects for much of his subject material. From a distance his painting, Flag, looks like a straight depiction of the American flag. You have to step closer to see this is painting over a collage of newspapers on plywood.
2. Keith Haring
You don’t have to ponder a Keith Haring image for long to understand his message. Bright colors and bold lines make the objects in his work unmistakable. He was first recognized for chalk drawings in NYC subways, and went on to comment on sex, violence and death using accessible subjects like a smurf, baby and Disney characters.
1. Andy Warhol
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Warhol didn’t invent this movement, but he certainly serves as the gateway of American pop art artists. You can probably name a handful of famous pieces. Remember Velvet Underground’s iconic album cover featuring a banana? How about 100 Soup Cans, Marilyn Monroe (in Technicolor!), Triple Elvis and John Wayne’s portrait? Warhol helped bring this movement to the main stream and continued to push its definition throughout his extensive career. Pop art lovers can find everything from Warhol puzzles to Warhol-inspired scarves and umbrellas.
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