How did pop art challenge beleifs in consumerism

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How did pop art challenge beleifs in consumerism


In order to discuss pop art I have chosen to examine the work and to some extent lives of Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol who were two of the main forces behind the American movement. I intend to reflect the attitudes of the public and artists in America at this time, while examining the growing popularity of pop art from its rocky, abstract expressionist start in the 1950s through the height of consumer culture in the 60s and 70s to the present day.

Roy Liechtenstein, (fig 1) was born in 1923 into to a middle class Hungarian family living in New York, there was no artists on either side of his family and throughout Liechtenstein’s schooling there were no art classes. He used to paint in oils and draw, sometimes sketching musicians he saw playing in Harlem and the Apollo Theatre as a hobby. It was not until ‘1939’ the summer of his last year at high school that he enrolled in art classes in the Art Students League run by a man called Reginald Marsh. Liechtenstein’s influences regarding his painting style at this time had been the European avant-garde artists such as Picasso. These cubist and expressionist styles were rejected buy by Marsh who favoured painting the masses of New York life such as carnival scenes, boxing matches and the subways catching the detail in fleeting brush strokes, in a non-academic easily recognisable way. This style of recognisable American art that used everyday scenes are directly related to the consumer orientated Pop Art that Liechtenstein was to develop later in his life.

Andy Warhol, (fig2) no one, including Warhol him self knows his exact birthday but its thought to be around 1928-1931. Born in Forest city Pennsylvania and christened Andrew Warhola (which he changed in 1949 while living in New York). There are several contradicting stories about his life although he left two autobiographies the factual authenticates are not known, however his parents emigrated to the States from Czechoslovakia in 1909, his father came first to avoid national service and his mother nine years later. His father who worked as a coal minor in West Virginia didn’t play a big role in brining up Warhol, as he was away form home allot. After his death Andrew his mother and his brothers had a very poor existence, during school holidays Andrew sold fruit and helped as a window...

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...cles for the American consumer only disconnected from there origins ‘Fig5’. Warhol’s idolisation of the super stars of that era is what set him apart from his contemporaries and immortalised him in popular culture the most famous or these being Marilyn Monroe ‘Fig6’. And this was no accident as his personal goal was to become a star in his own right and he consciously generated a cloak of mystery which made it almost impossible to distinguish the man from the legend “you can only become famous if everybody is talking about you”(Warhol).


All dressed up (the sixties and the counter culture), Jonathon Green, Pimlico 1999.

The 50s, Peter Lewis, Book Club Associates, 1978.

Fifties source book, Christopher Pearce , virgin imprint W.H Allen & co, 1990

Warhol, Klaus Honnef, Benedikt Taschen Verlag Gmbh, 2000

Lichtenstein, Janis Hendrickson, Benedikt Taschen Verlag Gmbh, 2000

Pop Art, Michael Compton, Feltham-Hamlyn, 1970

Pop as art: a study of the new super realism, Amaya-Mario, London: studio vista, 1965

Pop Art U S A – UK, Japan catalogue committee (isbny8226086), 1987

Cross overs: art into pop/pop into art, Walker John A, London Methuen, 1987

In this essay, the author

  • Explains that andy warhol was born in pennsylvania in 1928-1931, and christened andrew in 1949 while living in new york. his parents emigrated to the states from czechoslovakia in 1909.
  • Analyzes how both artists were intermingled with the consumer philosophy not only with their work but also strove for commercial and personal success.
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