What is Pop Art?
Pop Art is an art movement from the mid-1950s to the 1960s in the United Kingdom and the United States. The pop art artists created works inspired by the realities of everyday life and the popular culture. The main pop art themes include irony and satire, humor, optimism, affluence, materialism, leisure, and consumption of postwar society.
Famous pop art artists such as Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, and Richard Hamilton questioned elitist culture and the fine art traditions. Instead they used imagery and techniques drawn from mass media 📢 and mass culture.
This is just a list of the most famous pop art artists and a few information about their best known work.
If you are really serious about art in general and specifically pop art, there is a lot of literature around the topic. Pop Art: A Critical History published by University of California, is probably one of the best books about this topic. If you buy this book it’s true I get a very small commission, but you also get the best deal on this book.
Plus, the New York Times called this book an “indispensable compendium” for pop art, so I guess it’s safe to assume that it’s a must have if you are really into pop art.
History of Pop Art & Pop Art Artists
So, the Pop art movement began in the mid-1950s in Britain by a group of painters, sculptors, writers, and critics called the Independent Group.
British Pop Art
Independent Group (Institute of Contemporary Art)
- Richard Hamilton
- Edouardo Paolozzi
- Peter Blake
- John McHale
- Lawrence Alloway
- Peter Reyner Banham
- Richard Smith
- Jon Thompson
All of the Independent Group participated in a 1956 group exhibition at the Whitechapel Gallery, This is Tomorrow, featuring what they called a “New Eden.” The new Paradise was post-war America with its abundant consumer culture where all things seemed to be possible, from space travel to readily available sex.
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
The pop art movement spread soon after into the United States. Much of the movement’s roots were prompted by a cultural revolution led by activists, thinkers, and artists who aimed to restructure a social order ruled by conformity.
American Pop Art (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
American Pop Art (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
After the movement burst onto the scene in the United States, it quickly spread across the globe and continues to influence fine art and popular culture today.
Japan Pop Art
- Yayoi Kusama
- Takashi Murakami
- Yoshitomo Nara
- Tadanori Yokoo
Italian Pop Art
- Mario Schifano
- Tano Festa
- Renato Mambor
- Franco Angeli
- Mimmo Rotella
- Giosetta Fioroni
- Mario Ceoli
- Enrico Baj
- Cesare Tacchi
Characteristics of Pop art
The Pop art movement presented a challenge to traditions of fine art by including imagery from popular and mass culture, such as advertising, comic books and mass-produced cultural objects.
One of its aims is to use images of popular (as opposed to elitist) culture in art, emphasizing the banal or kitschy elements of any culture, most often through the use of irony. These are just some of the pop art facts that you need to know to better understand this art movement.
Below are some of the defining characteristics of Pop art:
- Recognizable imagery: Pop art artists used images and icons from popular media and products. These graphic images include photos of celebrities, body parts, everyday objects like soup cans (Campbell’s Soup Cans by Andy Warhol), water bottles, product labeling, mobile phones, cigarettes, furniture, road signs, and other items popular in the commercial world.
- Bright colors: Pop art is characterized by vibrant, bright and saturated colors. By using these vibrant colors & bold outlines, pop artworks grab the attention of the audience instantly
- Irony and satire: These were some of the main components of Pop art. Pop art artists use humor and irony to make a statement about current events.
- Innovative techniques: To quickly reproduce images in large quantities, many pop art artists used printmaking processes. Andy Warhol used silkscreen printing process (ink is transferred onto paper or canvas through a mesh screen with a stencil). Roy Lichtenstein used lithography technique (printing from a stone or a metal plate with a smooth surface).
- Mixed media and collage: Pop art artists often combined different materials and utilized a variety of different types of media. Some of the pop artists that used collage in their works are Robert Rauschenberg, Richard Hamilton and Peter Blake. They combined disparate images, newspaper prints and paper cut-outs into a single canvas to create a new whole. For making pop art collage, even brand names and logos were added.
Famous Pop Art Works
Famous pop art works include: Campbell’s Soup Cans (1962) by Andy Warhol, Whaam! (1963) by Roy Lichtenstein, Marilyn Diptych (1962) by Andy Warhol, I was a Rich Man’s Plaything (1947) by Eduardo Paolozzi, Flag (1955) by Jasper Johns, Just what is it that makes today’s homes so different, so appealing (1956) by Richard Hamilton.
For more pop art examples, read each section dedicated to the best pop art artists around the world.
Famous Pop Art Artists
The pop art history begun with the early artists that shaped the pop art movement. Among these first pop art artists were Eduardo Paolozzi and Richard Hamilton in Britain, and Larry Rivers, Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns among others in the United States.
In American art, famous exponents of Pop Art included Robert Rauschenberg (1925–2008), Jasper Johns (b. 1930), Roy Lichtenstein (1923–97) and Andy Warhol (1928–87).
Top British Pop Art artists included Sir Peter Blake (b. 1932), Patrick Caulfield (1936–2005), Richard Hamilton (b. 1922), David Hockney (b. 1937) and Allen Jones (b. 1937).
Andy Warhol (1928–1987) US
When introducing pop art, it is imperative to quote Andy Warhol as probably the most influential and complete representation of this culture and movement. With his distinctive and very personal style, Warhol gave voice to the star-system like nobody else. His subjects were elevated to the role of icons of the modern pop art society and his studio, also known as Factory, became the hive where many other powerful personalities implemented their language.
Andy Warhol’s Marilyn Diptych, 1962
The technique used for this painting was silk-screening. The work contains 50 images of Marilyn Monroe, half of which are painted in color, the other half in black-and-white. The work was completed in the weeks following the actress’s death.
Roy Lichtenstein (1923–1997) US
Roy Fox Lichtenstein can also be seen as one of the fathers of the modern pop art movement, with a style that was influenced by the highest levels of artistic expression from the last century, like pointillism, cubism and expressionism. In his work, we can see how an imaginary that belonged to advertising and comics, is transposed to a different scale and used to create icons that are highly related to the mass.
Roy Lichtenstein’s Whaam!, 1963
Roy Lichtenstein’s Whaam! is a large, two-canvas painting composed like a comic book strip of a rocket explosion in the sky. Lichtenstein was interested in portraying highly charged situations in this particularly detached, calculated manner.
Keith Haring (1958–1990) US
Street artist, at first, Keith Haring’s style has a strong relation with his childhood and those simple cartoonish figures his father used to make for him. As he stated: “My dad made cartoon characters for me, and they were very similar to the way I started to draw — with one line and a cartoon outline”. His artistic imprint was later developed in Pittsburg, and then mastered when he went to New York City and met Jean-Michel Basquiat, with whom he became close friends with.
Keith Haring’s Radiant Baby, 1982
Keith Haring, series of paintings. Albertina Museum, Wien
In 1980s New York, Keith Haring turned the subway into his studio. Using chalk, he etched his signature designs onto the walls. One of these was his Radiant Baby, which to him was one of the purest and most positive human experiences. It became a recurring visual idiom of Haring’s throughout the years and is now considered the artist’s signature tag.
Richard Hamilton (1922–2011) UK
Born in 1922, in Pimlico, London, Hamilton was part of a very strong British generation of pop art artists. His collage “Just What is it that makes today’s homes so different, so appealing?” (1956), guaranteed his entry in the famous pop art artists category, and is considered by some critics the first pop artwork ever produced.
Richard Hamilton’s Just What Is It That Makes Today’s Homes So Different, So Appealing?, 1956
Richard Hamilton’s collage presents a living room space filled with objects and ideas that, according to Hamilton, were crowding into the post-war consciousness. Drawing the viewer’s attention is the figure of a body-builder holding a giant lollipop with the word ‘POP’ scrawled on it. Not surprisingly, then, this collage is often referred to as the first example of Pop Art.
Robert Indiana (aka Robert Earl Clarke) (1928–2018) US
A major figure in American art since the 1960s, Robert Indiana played a central role in the development of assemblage art, hard-edge painting, and Pop art. Indiana, a self proclaimed “American painter of signs,” created a highly original body of work that explores American identity, personal history, and the power of abstraction and language.
1966 marked a turning point in Indiana’s career with the creation of his first LOVE sculpture, which has become an icon of 20th Century Art. Monumental examples have been installed and displayed around the world.
Robert Indiana’s LOVE, 1967.
Born Robert Earl Clark in Newcastle, Indiana, Robert Indiana took his native’s state’s name in 1958 during his time in New York on Coenties Slip. Indiana’s breakthrough image LOVE has become one of the most well-known images associated with the Pop art movement. The image was selected by the Museum of Modern Art for their annual Christmas card and quickly permeated wider popular culture.
Eduardo Paolozzi (1924–2005) UK
Eduardo Paolozzi was born on 7 March 1924, in Leith in north Edinburgh, Scotland, and was the eldest son of Italian immigrants.
Paolozzi studied at the Edinburgh College of Art in 1943, briefly at Saint Martin’s School of Art in 1944, and then at the Slade School of Fine Art at University College London from 1944 to 1947, after which he worked in Paris. While in Paris from 1947 to 1949, Paolozzi became acquainted with Alberto Giacometti, Jean Arp, Constantin Brâncuși, Georges Braque and Fernand Léger.
Paolozzi came to public attention in the 1950s by producing a range of striking screenprints and Art brut sculpture. He was a founder of the Independent Group in 1952, which is regarded as the precursor to the mid-1950s British and late 1950s American Pop Art movements.
Paolozzi’s I was a Rich Man’s Plaything (1947) is considered the first standard bearer of Pop Art and first to display the word “pop”.
Other notable works are: the mosaic patterned walls of the Tottenham Court Road tube station, the cover of Paul McCartney’s album Red Rose Speedway, the ceiling panels and window tapestry at Cleish Castle, the Piscator sculpture outside Euston Station, London Relief aluminium doors for the University of Glasgow’s Hunterian Gallery, the bronze sculpture Newton after Blake, 1995, in the piazza of the British Library, etc.
Robert Rauschenberg (1925–2008) US
Robert Rauschenberg was an American photographer and a painter who was very close to pop art but never really stuck completely to the movement. He was also often referred to as neo dadaist and shared this label with Jasper Johns. His work became very peculiar during the 1960s when he began introducing found pictures in his paintings by using serigraphy to transpose them on the canvas; a process that brought him closer to Andy Warhol’s work.
Robert Rauschenberg, Estate (1963), oil and silkscreen in on canvas.
Jasper Johns (b. 1930) US
Born in South Carolina, in Allendale, Jasper Johns moved to New York in 1949, when he decided to study for a few semesters at Parson’s Design School. But it didn’t take long for him to enter the art scene with some works that brought up an inedited relation between real images and painted images. Due to his closeness to everyday consumeristic symbols, he can be defined as a pop art artist, as we can see with his work “Three Flags” (1958).
Jasper Johns, Three Flags (1958), oil on canvas. Whitney Museum of American Art
Jim Dine (b. 1935) US
Another incredibly famous modern pop art artist, is Jim Dine, one of America’s most active pop art artist, with 60 years of career behind him and appearances in the international scene at very important fairs like dOCUMENTA Kassel and the Biennale in Venice. As well as Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg, he was part of the new dada movement and is also a stage writer, photographer and sculptor.
Jim Dine, A Sign of its Pale Color, Tenderness (2015)
Ray Johnson (1927–1995) US
Raymond Edward “Ray” Johnson was an American artist. Known primarily as a collagist and correspondence artist, he was a seminal figure in the history of Neo-Dada and early Pop art and was described as “New York’s most famous unknown artist”. Johnson also staged and participated in early performance art events as the founder of a far-ranging mail art network — the New York Correspondence School — which picked up momentum in the 1960s and is still active today. He is occasionally associated with members of the Fluxus movement but was never a member. He lived in New York City from 1949 to 1968, when he moved to a small town in Long Island and remained there until his suicide.
Ray Johnson, History of Video Art (1960)
Alex Katz (b. 1927) US
An incredible painter. One of those personalities who are hard to label and categorize. Alex Katz, who is still alive and painting at the age of 92 years old, developed a style in which we can find relations both with abstract expressionism and pop art. As famous as he got he hasn’t stopped creating fresh and influential paintings, which are nowadays all around in the most prestigious exhibitions and museums.
Alex Katz, Black Hat
Claes Oldenburg (b. 1929) US
Claes Oldenburg is an American sculptor, best known for his public art installations typically featuring large replicas of everyday objects. Another theme in his work is soft sculpture versions of everyday objects. Many of his works were made in collaboration with his wife, Coosje van Bruggen, who died in 2009; they had been married for 32 years. Oldenburg lives and works in New York.
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.
Edward Ruscha (b. 1937) US
Edward Ruscha is an American pop art artist whose medium was photography and main influences were Jasper Johns, Marcel Duchamp and Edward Hopper. His career brought him to cooperate with many different realities but the peak point of his work is the participation to the world-famous exhibition “New Painting of Common Objects”, in 1962, featuring Warhol, Lichtenstein and other famous pop art artists.
Edward Ruscha, Trademark #7, (20th Century Fox), 1962
James Rosenquist (1933–2017) US
Another extremely important and famous pop art artist, is with no doubt James Rosenquist, who can be considered, as well as Warhol and Lichtenstein, as one of the strongest and most influential modern pop art artists. His work dives deep into cinematography and advertising and creates a fragmented image of these streamlines and their icons.
James Rosenquist, President-Elect, 1960–61/1964, oil on linen. Centre Pompidou, Paris
Tom Wesselmann (1931–2004) US
Very close to Jim Dine’s research, Tom Wesselmann gave a strong poetic twist to the subjects that were mostly used by other famous pop art artists. His work combines realistic objects with surreal, dreamy and illusionistic spaces, made with strong chromatic surfaces.
Tom Wesselmann, Bedroom Tit Box (1968–1970). Courtesy of Almine Rech Gallery
Sir Peter Blake (b. 1932) UK
Sir Peter Thomas Blake is an English pop artist, best known for co-creating the sleeve design for the Beatles’ album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and for two of the Who’s albums. His other best known works include the cover of the Band Aid single “Do They Know It’s Christmas?”, and the Live Aid concert poster. Blake also designed the 2012 Brit Award statuette.
One of the best known British pop artists, Blake is considered to be a prominent figure in the pop art movement. Central to his paintings are his interest in images from popular culture which have infused his collages. In 2002 he was knighted at Buckingham Palace for his services to art.
Peter Blake, Sources of Pop Art 7
Mel Ramos (1935–2018) US
Melvin John Ramos was an American figurative painter, specializing most often in paintings of female nudes, whose work incorporates elements of realist and abstract art. Born in Sacramento, California, to a first generation Portuguese-Azorean immigrant family, he gained his popularity as part of the pop art movement of the 1960s. Ramos is “best known for his paintings of superheroes and voluptuous female nudes emerging from cornstalks or Chiquita bananas, popping up from candy wrappers or lounging in martini glasses”.
Ramos had originally started with abstract expressionism, but gave that up after taking on the task of depicting American super-heroes like Superman and Batman. That marked his debut on the path of becoming one of the important figures of the pop art movement.
Mel Ramos, Chiquita Banana (1969), polychrome enamel
As is well known, Mel Ramos can be seen as one of the last pop art artists, even though the irony that can be found in his works is said to distance him from this particular movement. His symbols and subjects are in fact different in meaning from the ones adopted in a similar way by other famous pop art artists, making his work more subtle.
Patrick Caulfield (1936–2005) UK
Patrick Joseph Caulfield was an English painter and printmaker known for his bold canvases, which often incorporated elements of photorealism within a pared-down scene. Examples of his work are Pottery and Still Life Ingredients.
Patrick Caulfield, Pottery
David Hockney (b. 1937) UK
Remaining in the British pop art artists panorama, we can easily encounter David Hockney’s work. Painter, draftsman, printmaker, stage designer and photographer, Hockney is probably the most influential amongst British pop art artists, and is also the most valuable living artist, after his recent 90 million dollar sell of his painting “Double Portrait”, at Christie’s. His painting style combines a figurative idea with the pop colour palette, creating extremely expressive settings that remain highly recognizable.
David Hockney, Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures), 1972
Marjorie Strider (1931–2014) US
Marjorie Virginia Strider (January 26, 1931 — August 27, 2014) was an American painter, sculptor and performance artist best known for her three-dimensional paintings and site-specific soft sculpture installations.
Strider studied art at the Kansas City Art Institute before moving to New York City in the early 1960s. Strider’s three-dimensional paintings of beach girls with “built out” curves were prominently featured in the Pace Gallery’s 1964 “International Girlie Show” alongside other “pin-up”-inspired pop art by Rosalyn Drexler, Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, and Tom Wesselmann.
Marjorie Strider’s 1963 Girl with Radish
Her comically pornographic Woman with Radish was made into the banner image for the show, one of the first successful exhibitions of the then-new gallery. Her bold figural work from this era aimed to subvert sexist images of women in popular culture by turning objectified female bodies into menacing forms that literally got “in your face.”
Allen Jones (b. 1937) UK
Allen Jones is a British pop artist best known for his paintings, sculptures, and lithography. He was awarded the Prix des Jeunes Artistes at the 1963 Paris Biennale. He is a Senior Academician at the Royal Academy of Arts.
In 2017 he returned to his home town to receive the award Honorary Doctor of Arts from Southampton Solent University.
Jones has taught at the Hochschule für bildende Künste Hamburg, the University of South Florida, the University of California, the Banff Center School of Fine Arts in Canada, and the Berlin University of the Arts.
His works reside in a number of collections; including the Tate, the Museum Ludwig, the Warwick Arts Centre and the Hirshhorn Museum.
Table and Chair, involving fibreglass “fetish” mannequins, 1970
George Condo (b. 1957) US
George Condo is an American contemporary visual artist. He works in painting, drawing, sculpture, and printmaking, and lives and works in New York City.
As just stated, Warhol’s Factory was a place where many other interesting pop artists developed their way of approaching painting and modern pop art symbols. This was also the case of George Condo, a highly respected artist that used the pop narrative to create a style of his own, which was later labelled as artificial realism. Condo’s paintings give a mind-blowing interpretation of how realism is felt and experienced in the cyber society, and are still dominating the contemporary art scene nowadays, as we can see for ourselves if we attend some of the most influential art fairs and museums.
George Condo, The Cracked Cardinal (2001), oil on canvas
Rosalyn Drexler (b. 1926) US
Rosalyn Drexler (born 25 November 1926) is an American visual artist, novelist, Obie Award-winning playwright, and Emmy Award-winning screenwriter, and former professional wrestler. Although she has had a polymathic career, Drexler is perhaps best known for her pop art paintings and as the author of the novelization of the film Rocky, under the pseudonym Julia Sorel. Drexler currently lives and works in New York City, New York.
By 1961, Drexler started changing her work from assemblage to Pop Art. She searched through old magazines, posters, and newspapers to source imagery for her paintings. Her self-taught process consisted of blowing up images from magazines and newspapers, collaging them onto canvas, and then painting over them in bright, saturated colors.
Drexler signed with Kornblee Gallery, where she had solo shows in 1964–1966. In January 1964 her work was included in the “First International Girlie Exhibit” at Pace Gallery, New York. She and Marjorie Strider were the only two women Pop artists included in this exhibition, which also featured Warhol, Lichtenstein, and Tom Wesselmann. Drexler exhibited collages cut and pasted from girlie magazines. The work scandalized some, but her paintings were mostly well received.
The Defenders, 1963, Colby College Museum of Art, Waterville, Maine
Drexler’s paintings continued to enjoy favorable reviews and were exhibited in major Pop art exhibitions throughout the 1960s. She did not gain the level of recognition of many of her male peers; the major themes in her paintings — violence against women, racism, social alienation — were controversial topics in a genre known for being “cool” and detached.
James Gill (b. 1934) US
James Francis Gill is an American artist and one of the protagonists of the Pop art movement. In 1962, the Museum of Modern Art included his Marilyn Tryptych into its permanent collection. At the peak of his career, Gill retired. He returned to the art scene around 30 years later.
As a proof of the importance and repetitiveness of the subjects in most of the famous pop art artists’ work, we can look at James Francis Gill’s production; an American painter who grew in fame ever since his “Marylin Tryptych” was included in the MOMA collection in 1962. His impressive career was at a peak point when he decided to retire in 1972, due to his misbelief in the social and political situation he lived in. But his exile was interrupted after about 30 years when he decided his comeback in the art scene with a show at the San Angelo Fine Arts Museum.
James Francis Gill, Three Faces of Marilyn (2014), acrylic on canvas. Galerie Urs Reichlin
Marisol (Escobar) (1930–2016) US
Marisol Escobar, otherwise known simply as Marisol, was a French sculptor of Venezuelan heritage who worked in New York City.
In the following decade of the 1960s Marisol began to be influenced by pop artists such as Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein. She appeared in two films by Warhol, The Kiss and 13 Most Beautiful Girls.
One of her best-known works from this period is The Party, a life-size group installation of figures at the Toledo Museum of Art. Her predisposition toward the forms of Pop Art stems, in part, from some of her earliest art training, dating back to her time under Howard Warshaw at the Jepson Art Institute.
Author Albert Boimes notes the profound effect that Comic book art had on the Pop Artists including on Marisol herself. He writes that comic strips and comic books, as well as animated cartoons, held a particular appeal for an entire generation of artists born around 1930, including Claes Oldenburg, Mel Ramos, Andy Warhol, Tom Wesselmann, James Rosenquist, and of course Roy Lichtenstein, the oldest of this group.
Marisol, “Women and Dog” (1963–64), on view in the Whitney Museum exhibition ‘America Is Hard to See’
Jeff Koons (b. 1955) US
Jeffrey L. Koons is an American artist recognized for his work dealing with popular culture and his sculptures depicting everyday objects, including balloon animals — produced in stainless steel with mirror-finish surfaces. He lives and works in both New York City and his hometown of York, Pennsylvania. His works have sold for substantial sums, including at least two record auction prices for a work by a living artist, including $91.1 million with fees in May 2019, for his Rabbit, purchased by Robert E. Mnuchin according to a New York Times article.
While talking about mass consumption and collective iconic aesthetics, we cannot forget about Jeff Koons. His kitschy and colourful sculptures get in touch in a unique way with the full-on positive society they were created for, making his neo-pop shapes close relatives of Andy Warhol’s iconic pop art, not only for their colorfulness but also for their monumentality and influential power.
Jeff Koons, Popeye (2009–2011), mirror polished stainless steel with transparent color coating. Sonnabend Gallery, New York
Banksy (b. 19.. ) UK
Banksy is an anonymous England-based street artist, political activist, and film director, active since the 1990s. His satirical street art and subversive epigrams combine dark humour with graffiti executed in a distinctive stenciling technique. His works of political and social commentary have been featured on streets, walls, and bridges throughout the world. Banksy’s work grew out of the Bristol underground scene, which involved collaborations between artists and musicians. Banksy says that he was inspired by 3D, a graffiti artist and founding member of the musical group Massive Attack.
Banksy, Girl With Balloon (2006)
Anonymous street artist “Banksy” is probably the most famous pop art artist nowadays. His fame is worldwide due to his public interventions and his provocative approach that often got him labelled as an outlaw and made him wanted by the Interpol. His style is of strong street art derivation and his medium is mainly sprayed paint — stencil, while his symbols are mainly related to the concurrent political situation and of mediatic purpose; like the world-famous “Shredded Painting” case.
Stik (b. 1979) UK
Stik is a British graffiti artist based in London. He is known for painting large stick figures. His work has fetched over £150,000 at auction.
Nowadays when we walk around London, we encounter a series of extremely expressive yet simplified figures painted on street walls. These are the artworks of British graffiti artist Stik, an artist who has come from the blocks to the world’s finest galleries and has seen his work auctioned by Christie’s at the impressive amount of 150.000£. His style is unique in colour and form and shows a very contemporary derivation on the finest modern pop art artists.
Stik’s graffiti on a shopfront shutter in Shoreditch, London.
Damien Hirst (b. 1965) UK
Damien Steven Hirst is an English artist, entrepreneur, and art collector.He is one of the Young British Artists (YBAs), who dominated the art scene in the UK during the 1990s. He is reportedly the United Kingdom’s richest living artist, with his wealth valued at £215m in the 2010 Sunday Times Rich List.
Death is a central theme in Hirst’s works. He became famous for a series of artworks in which dead animals (including a shark, a sheep and a cow) are preserved — sometimes having been dissected — in formaldehyde. The best-known of these was The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living, a 14-foot (4.3 m) tiger shark immersed in formaldehyde in a clear display case. He has also made “spin paintings”, created on a spinning circular surface, and “spot paintings”, which are rows of randomly coloured circles created by his assistants.
Damien Hirst, Skull with Clocks in Eyes (2008), household gloss on canvas.
Damien Hirst and Science Ltd.
Moving to the European scenery, it’s important to understand how British pop art artists have been monumental in these last few decades. One of these titans is certainly Damien Hirst, whose conceptual art career and the path followed with the YBA collective, hasn’t denied him the time to also talk to the mass. His works have often adopted the pop art aesthetic and used it to create symbols of immediate consumption, like his world-famous scull paintings and spin paintings.
Yayoi Kusama (b. 1929) Japan
Yayoi Kusama is a Japanese contemporary artist who works primarily in sculpture and installation, but is also active in painting, performance, film, fashion, poetry, fiction, and other arts. Her work is based in conceptual art and shows some attributes of feminism, minimalism, surrealism, Art Brut, pop art, and abstract expressionism, and is infused with autobiographical, psychological, and sexual content. She has been acknowledged as one of the most important living artists to come out of Japan.
Yayoi Kusama, the artist with her work “Tentacles” (2012–2015)
Coming from a different background, like the one of the extremely formal painting method named “nihonga”, Yayoi Kusama moves to New York City in 1958, at the age of 29 years old. She was attracted to the powerful and vivid American pop art scene and blended into it perfectly with her performances and her Infinity Net paintings. Since she has moved back to Japan as a famous pop art artist, she has implemented her studies about infinity with her all-around sculptures, which create settings of amplified reality.
Takashi Murakami (b. 1962) Japan
Takashi Murakami is a Japanese contemporary artist. He works in fine arts media (such as painting and sculpture) as well as commercial media (such as fashion, merchandise, and animation) and is known for blurring the line between high and low arts. He coined the term “superflat”, which describes both the aesthetic characteristics of the Japanese artistic tradition and the nature of post-war Japanese culture and society, and is also used for Murakami’s artistic style and other Japanese artists he has influenced.
Takeshi Murakami, Mr. dub And Bunny, digital art (2019)
While the most famous pop art artists are often seen as American, in more recent times also Japan has been recognized as the motherland of some great modern pop art artists, like Takeshi Murakami, who was defined as the most influential figure of the Japanese contemporary culture. Painter and sculptor, Murakami developed artworks inspired to his country’s iconography, which have had a massive impact in the contemporary scene.
Nara Yoshimoto (b. 1959) Japan
Yoshitomo Nara is a Japanese artist. He lives and works in Nasushiobara, Tochigi Prefecture, though his artwork has been exhibited worldwide. Nara has had nearly 40 solo exhibitions since 1984. His art work has been housed at the MoMA and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (MOCA). His most well-known and repeated subject is a young girl with piercing eyes.
Nara Yoshimoto, Knife Behind Back (2000), oil on canvas
His work represents some simple figures that often look harmless like children or domestic animals, made with cartoonish features, but that at a certain degree of attention reveal hostile objects like weapons held by these “cute” subjects and very harsh face expressions that fill the observer with hateful feelings.
Mimmo Rotella (1918–2006) Italy
Domenico “Mimmo” Rotella was an Italian artist considered an important figure in post-war European art. Best known for his works of décollage and psychogeographics, made from torn advertising posters. He was associated to the Ultra-Lettrists an offshoot of Lettrism and later was a member of the Nouveau Réalisme, founded in 1960 by the art critic Pierre Restany.
Mimmo Rotella, Sempre lei Marilyn (2002), décollage on canvas
Domenico Rotella, also known as Mimmo Rotella, was an incredibly active artist in the second half of the 20th century, close both to nouveau réalisme and pop art movements. This incredibly fine pop art artist used the seridècollage technique to create a series of ripped off poster paintings and assemblages of tremendous expressive power and aesthetic delicacy.
Hariton Pushwagner (1940–2018) Norway
Terje Brofos, who’s artist name was Hariton Pushwagner, was a Norwegian graphic and painter, who spent many years struggling to find his personal style, before becoming famous for his strongly narrative and cartoonish images, partially derived by his affection for Axel Jensen’s.
Hariton Pushwagner, Re Traversa (Soft city) (1969), print on paper
Wayne Thiebaud (b. 1920) US
Wayne Thiebaud is an American painter known for his colorful works depicting commonplace objects — pies, lipsticks, paint cans, ice cream cones, pastries, and hot dogs — as well as for his landscapes and figure paintings. Thiebaud is associated with the pop art movement because of his interest in objects of mass culture, although his early works, executed during the fifties and sixties, slightly predate the works of the classic pop artists. Thiebaud uses heavy pigment and exaggerated colors to depict his subjects, and the well-defined shadows characteristic of advertisements are almost always included in his work.
Dessert Tray, 1963, oil on canvas
Wayne Thiebaud is a vastly recognized pop art artist. His work is truly of the highest painting standards due to its quality in color and technique. In his research, he studies everyday objects that in his opinion have been left apart by artists, maybe because they looked off-putting such as sweets like lollipops, which were maybe seen as superficial subjects. Although he is often referred to as a famous pop art artist, he sometimes is said to be different from the pop culture due to the different painting technique he has adopted.
Peter Max (b. 1937) Germany — US
Peter Max (born Peter Max Finkelstein) is a German-American artist known for using bright colours in his work. Works by Max are associated with the visual arts and culture of the 1960s, particularly psychedelic art and pop art.
U.S. postage stamp featuring Max’s artwork commemorating Expo ‘74
Peter Max, Marilyn, from the retrospective “The Collected Works 1960–2017”
Peter Max’s work is recognizable for the hallucinating effect given by his colours. His subjects are in relation to the 1960’s art scene and are implemented by the distinctive and calculated approach that the artist has with space.
Niclas Castello (b. 1978) Germany
Niclas Castello (real name Norbert Zerbs) is a German contemporary artist influenced by pop art, neo-expressionism and street art. He is well known for sculptures like The Kiss, but also does paintings.
Niclas Castello, The Kiss (Shiny Red) (2013–2015). Courtesy of Guy Hepner
Niclas Castello is for sure a very talented artist from our generation. He became famous due to works like “The Kiss”, in which we can find a neo-pop variation of other famous pop art artists’ subjects, but also some neo-expressionist and street-art influences.
This art movement gave us so many talented pop art artists, each with its own unique style. The types of pop art and techniques vary from meticulously literal paintings, to silk-screen prints, to collage and 3D art works.
“Pop culture is not about depth. It’s about marketing, supply and demand, consumerism. “ — Trevor Dunn
If you like the pop art style here are some useful resources that will help you create the perfect pop art designs. Also, don’t forget that the internet is a huge source of Pop Art ideas.
How To Create A Pop Art Effect [Photoshop Tutorial]
If you like pop art, you can easily create a digital Pop Art effect using Photoshop or other graphic design software like MockoFun.
Check out this pop art Photoshop tutorial for details on how to achieve the Warhol effect in Photoshop. You can turn your photo into a pop art poster.
Pop Art Photoshop Actions [Quick Results]
If you don’t want to make all these steps manually, you can try these quick and easy to use Photoshop actions:
Turn Photo to Pop Art [No Tool Required]
If you don’t have Photoshop but you want to turn your photo to pop art, check out this pop art portrait from Etsy.
You don’t need a graphic design software like Photoshop. You simply send the photo and you get back a pop art style image.
“Pop is about speaking everybody’s language. The imagery and iconography we instantly recognize. When you can rely on things that the public already knows, you’re dealing with Pop.” ― Nuno Roque