The Pop Art movement has always been scrutinised for its legitimacy in the traditional Art world. The notion of Pop Art, in the 1960’s, seemed to some critics to be simple appropriation, taking an idea from someone else and then making it their own by altering or decontextualizing it. Traditional artists, art collectors and appreciators, found this new challenge of separating High Art from Low Culture difficult with the avant-garde approach taken by Pop Artists like Claes Oldenburg, Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein. This essay will explore the origins of Pop Art and its clashes with High Art and its stereotypes. Looking at the pioneers of Pop Art, Andy Warhol with his works “Campbell’s Soup Cans” and “Untitled from Marilyn Monroe (Marilyn)” and Claes Oldenburg with his exaggerated fabrications of everyday objects. This will highlight how the clash of High Art and Low Culture changed the worlds view on what is classified as Art.
The earliest appearance of Pop Art was believed to be birthed in the mid 1930s however was brought to the forefront of the Art world in the late years of the 1950s and the early years of the 1960s. “It was quite stunning at the beginning – the first post World War II representational reaction to abstract art that was not primarily conservative (or antimodernist) in spirit” . It challenged people to think about what was classified or defined as being Art. Dick Hebdige identifies; “… the dismissive critical response [to Pop] merely reproduces unaltered the ideological distinctions between, on the one hand, the ‘serious’, the ‘artistic, the ‘political’,” being High Art, “and on the other, the ‘ephemeral’, the ‘commercial’ the ‘pleasurable’ which is considered Low or Popular Culture. This notion can be…
…In other words bringing High Art to Low Culture. The Pop Art movement assisted in blurring the distinctions and stereotypes of Art. Art is a paradigm that is judged on an individual level, like beauty; Art is judged in the eye of the beholder.Works CitedCollins, Jim, Architectures of Excess: Cultural Life in the Information Age (New York: Routledge, 1995)
Kostelanetz, Richard, Dictionary of the Avant-Gardes, 2nd Ed., Schirmer Books, 2000.
‘Mom and Pop Art’, The Simpsons, Season 10, Episode 19, DVD, directed by Steven Dean Moore 20th Century Fox: USA, 1999
Scherman, Tony & Helman, Robin, “When Pop Turned the Art World Upside Down,” American Heritage 52, no. 1 (Febuary/March 2001): 68-81.
Wolf, Reva, “Homer Simpson as Outsider Artist: How I Learned to Accept Ambivalence,” Art Journal 65, no. 3 (Fall 2006): 100-11.