The journey of Pop Art as a 20th century art style.

Written by Anisha Bhat, Fashion Communication & Styling, ISDI. Faculty: Belinda Bawa

Looking back at history, it’s incredible to see the vast extent of art movements which have impacted the society and the living styles of people over the years. Art movements have substantially been like a mirror to the society, reflecting the thinking process of the people of that time. As art ages from one era to the other, there is an evolution of these rules as a general acceptance of multiple things comes into the picture. When these rules apply to art movements of the 20th Century, it is predominantly about how people relate to art and have changed their perspective about the conventional meaning of art. One of the vital art movements to take a step towards this ideal is Pop Art.

Pop Art aimed at blurring the lines between high art and low culture. It was meant for the young artists who questioned the point of view that existed in the art placed in museums and how it didn’t correlate with the kind of lives they lead. It was the form of art which aimed at staying relevant to the audience and still be an attractive and appealing art movement by continuing to be unique and recognisable. The real life sources of art such as the popular Hollywood Movies, advertising product packaging, pop music and comic books became a major influence to this art style. It also depicts the emotions that an artwork wants to convey through the use of onomatopoeia, which makes it one of a kind. Characterised by bold, simple, everyday imagery and vibrant colours, it has definitely proved to be a delight for its viewers, and justifies the popularity gained by it over time.

The mid 1950s in America represented the art world which was being influenced by people who wanted their art to be more inclusive by bringing in everyday recognisable objects as the popular culture of the time. Places such as New York and Los Angeles marked the beginning of the Pop Art culture. As pop art started to emerge as a strong and impactful art movement in the US, artists who brought it to life included Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein who presented their conceptual artworks to the audience in order to convey a new idea and vision of everyday life.

British pop art on the other hand drew its inspiration from the American style as it was considered to be more exciting and appealing. However, this kind of art was carried out with the use of comparatively older techniques due to the lack of development of newer techniques at that time.

American VS British Pop Art

As Pop Art started to reach the peak of its popularity, the artists behind this movement kept it alive and growing. And while these artists are mentioned, Andy Warhol would be one of the leading figures in this art movement. Timeless, new and exciting, Andy Warhol had a completely new take on what it meant to be in a world of Pop Art.

Andy Warhol’s works are still very much engraved in people’s mind as he brought in a revolutionary style to the entire art movement. As fascinating as his artworks are, equally fascinating was his thought process which were defined by his style and technique. His vision of art took a new turn on what conventional art depicted and this was appealed by everyone at large.

Artworks by Andy Warhol

One of the most famous pieces made by Andy Warhol included the “Campbell Soup cans” which transformed itself from a painting to a fashion garment, called the “Souper Dress”. This dress captured the very essence of the consumerist lifestyle as it conveyed the idea of the disposable nature of consumer goods. Another classic example would be the Versace dress which was inspired by Warhol’s Marilyn painting and gave a different definition to the art style all together by including it as a print. This defined how Andy Warhol was successful enough in erasing the distinction that existed between fine arts and commercial arts.

Pop art has been influencing fashion over the years and continues to do so through the presence of the most renowned art pieces by the masters of the Pop Art Movement. One of these masters who made Pop Art what it is today was Roy Lichtenstein. He was one of the most popular American pop artists who achieved widespread fame because of his unique style of conveying moods and emotions through his artworks.

These artworks created such an impact on the viewers that his work became almost synonymous to Pop Art itself and started dominating this world of Pop.

Artwork by Roy Lichtenstein

Roy Lichtenstein’s artworks act as a constant source of inspiration for fashion designers to add a vibrant and dynamic edge to their collections. Iceberg and Lisa Perry and brands such as Nike, Vans and Converse are a few names which drew inspiration for their collections from these high impact artworks.

Pop Art however, continues to dominate the fashion industry even in today’s time, whether it’s about the Moschino Collection designed by Jeremy Scott displaying the commercial Supremes -Fritolay and Mcdonalds or if it’s about YSL’s collection inspired by pop art. They stand as an evidence for pop art being a reflection of the prevalent notions that the society is being led by and how great art can just be as relevant as our everyday products and by using a tool as powerful as fashion to convey this ideal.

Pop art first changed the way people perceived artworks to look like and now it continues to redefine the way art is placed in the economy. Leading its way through, pop art can be seen as a powerful weapon for marketing and advertising by appealing to its viewers not only because of its appearance but also the use of language to convey which creates a stronger impact on the younger audience. This makes it more understandable and creates a greater advantage for the marketer making use of this art style to convey their idea.

The art movement which laid its foundations on the thought of how the hierarchy of culture does not exist created a general acceptance of the fact that inspiration could lie in any source. It made the people believe that more the relevancy more is the artistic appeal for it. To create art out of objects which make our day to day lives, is the very intention of pop art. Having been one of the most influential art movements, Pop Art has not just been a source of artworks but has created a whole new thought process and ideation of viewing things and the various ways in which they could be perceived. That is where lies, the very significance of the Pop Art Movement.

Bombay | A student aspiring to acquire skills in Fashion Communication & Styling.