Pop Art was an art movement that dominated the art world in the mid 20th century. Considered the last prominent modern art movement, Pop Art appreciates popular culture as opposed to elitist culture. It is characterized by bright colors and use of recognizable imagery from popular culture like advertisements, celebrities, mundane cultural objects and comic book characters. Pop Art may be seen as a reaction against Abstract Expressionism, the then dominant movement which emphasized on conveying strong emotional or expressive content through abstraction. The non-painterly style and the commercial aspect of Pop Art was a stark contrast to the technique and philosophy of Abstract Expressionism. Pop Art emerged in the United Kingdom and the United States in the 1950s with the works of artists like Richard Hamilton and Jasper Johns. It gained widespread attention with the emergence of Andy Warhol and it continues to remain relevant through the works of Yayoi Kusama, Romero Britto and Claes Oldenburg. Here are the 10 most famous Pop Art artists and their best known masterpieces.

 

#10 Claes Oldenburg

Claes Oldenburg
Claes Oldenburg

Born: January 28, 1929

Nationality: American

Son of a Swedish diplomat, Claes Oldenburg became a citizen of the United States in 1953. At this time, the American art scene was dominated by the non-representational forms of Abstract Expressionism. Oldenburg, however, went the other way creating sculptures of everyday items. He created giant objects made of cloth stuffed with paper or rags, which became known as “soft-sculptures”. In 1962, he first exhibited his huge soft sculptures. Oldenburg’s work includes food items like ice cream cones, hamburgers and cakes; and mass manufactured items like lipsticks, needles, bicycles and fans. His giant sculptures presented these common objects in such a way that it reversed the traditional relationship between the viewer and these items. Claes Oldenburg was a pioneer in the field of Pop Art sculptures and he is the reigning king of Pop sculpture since the early 1960s.

Masterpiece: Lipstick (Ascending) on Caterpillar Tracks (1969)

Lipstick (Ascending) on Caterpillar Tracks (1969)
Lipstick (Ascending) on Caterpillar Tracks (1969) – Claes Oldenburg

Other Famous Works:-

Clothespin (1976)

Floor Cake (1962)

 

#9 Peter Blake

Peter Blake
Peter Blake

Born: June 25, 1932

Nationality: British

Peter Blake is a versatile artist who has produced sculpture, engraving and printmaking, as well as commercial art in the form of graphics. However, he is most renowned for his collages, which combine images from pop culture with fine art. In his vibrant artworks, one may see images of wrestlers, music-hall entertainers, film stars, advertisements etc. along with traditional fine art. Painted between 1955 and 1957, On His Balcony is one of the most famous works of Peter Blake and an iconic piece of pop art. Among other things, it shows a boy holding Edouard Manet’s painting The Balcony. Peter Blake was one of the first Pop Art artists from Britain. He played a key role in the development of the movement in his nation and he is often called the Godfather of British Pop Art. In 2002, Blake was knighted at Buckingham Palace for his services to art.

Masterpiece: Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band Album Cover (1967)

Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band Album Cover (1967)
Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band Album Cover (1967) – Peter Blake

Other Famous Works:-

On The Balcony (1957)

Self-Portrait with Badges (1961)

 

#8 Jasper Johns

Jasper Johns
Jasper Johns

Born: May 15, 1930

Nationality: American

Jasper Johns is one of the most renowned living artists in the world. His work in painting, sculpture and printmaking has affected nearly every artistic movement since the 1950s to the present including Abstract Expressionism, Neo Dada and the Pop Art movement. Johns was among the artists who laid the foundations of Pop Art movement’s embrace of commodity culture. The main focus of his Pop Art works is signs, like flags, targets and maps. In fact, his best known work is the painting Flag, which is one of the most recognizable artworks of the Pop Art movement. It is said that he created it after having a dream of the American flag. Jasper Johns has received many honors during his lifetime including the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama in 2011. His works constantly receive millions of dollars at sale and auction; and they have held the record for the highest price paid for a work by a living artist multiple times.

Masterpiece: Flag (1955)

Flag (1955)
Flag (1955) – Jasper Johns

Other Famous Works:-

Target with Four Faces (1955)

Three Flags (1958)

#7 Richard Hamilton

Richard Hamilton
Richard Hamilton

Lifespan: February 24, 1922 – September 13, 2011

Nationality: British

Along with the Scottish artist Eduardo Paolozzi, Richard Hamilton is considered the pioneer of the Pop Art movement. His 1955 exhibition Man, Machine and Motion; and his 1956 collage Just what is it that makes today’s homes so different, so appealing? are considered by art historians to be among the earliest works of pop art. Just What Is It, a parody of American advertising, in fact gave the name to the Pop Art movement. The name comes from an enormous lollipop in the hands of the central figure in the collage with the brand name “Tootsie POP”. Throughout his career, Hamilton explored the relationship between fine art, product design and popular culture. He continued to break down hierarchies of artistic value, making silkscreens of Mick Jagger’s drug arrest, producing studies of industrial design objects and designing the cover of the Beatles’ 1968 White Album. Richard Hamilton, more than anyone else, laid the groundwork for the Pop Art movement defining its aims and ideals.

Masterpiece: Just what is it that makes today’s homes so different, so appealing? (1956)

Just what is it that makes today's homes so different, so appealing by Richard Hamilton
Just what is it that makes today’s homes so different, so appealing (1956) – Richard Hamilton

Other Famous Works:-

Interior II (1964)

My Marilyn (Paste Up) (1965)

 

#6 Romero Britto

Romero Britto
Romero Britto

Born: October 6, 1963

Nationality: Brazilian

Coming from an extremely modest household, Romero Britto is largely a self taught artist who launched his career using nothing but scraps of newspaper and cardboard and turning them into makeshift canvases. He didn’t even have enough money to buy brushes and he thus used his hands and fingers to create his unique style. Britto credits his 1983 trip to Paris for arousing his interest in Modern masters such as Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse; and this had a major impact on his work. He went on to develop his unique style which blended Pop Art with Cubist-like abstraction. Romero Britto is famous for using bright colors and joyful subject matter including Disney characters and animals. His Pop Art has been described by the New York Times as exuding “warmth, optimism and love”. Romero Britto is one of the best known and most successful living artists in the world.

Masterpiece: Mona Cat (2010)

Mona Cat (2010)
Mona Cat (2010) – Romero Britto

Other Famous Works:-

Britto Garden (2000)

Martini Sunrise (2005)

 

#5 Yayoi Kusama

Yayoi Kusama
Yayoi Kusama

Born: March 22, 1929

Nationality: Japanese

Yayoi Kusama tasted some early success in Japan and, while there, she developed her signature style of covering things; walls, floors, canvases, household objects and naked assistants; with polka dots. In 1957, at the age of 27, she moved to the United States and became involved in the Pop Art movement. She has said that she faced racism and sexism in America; and that her artworks were copied by her male peers; including Warhol, Oldenburg and Samaras; who then took credit for them by exhibiting them in major galleries. Whatever might be the case, with time, Kusama’s contribution to the Pop Art Movement as well as to the art world was recognized and now she is perhaps the most successful female artist in the world. Kusuma is most renowned for her complex Infinity Mirror installations, rooms in which an observer can experience an illusion of a never-ending space.

Masterpiece: Narcissus Garden (1966)

Narcissus Garden (1966)
Narcissus Garden (1966) – Yayoi Kusama

Other Famous Works:-

Dots Obsession (2003)

Repetitive Vision (1996)

 

#4 David Hockney

David Hockney
David Hockney

Born: June 7, 1965

Nationality: British

David Hockney is regarded as one of most prominent figures of the Pop Art movement and his 1967 painting A Bigger Splash is an iconic work of Pop Art. Hockney focuses on personal subject matter; and depicts scenes from his own life and that of friends. His famous works include swimming pools, split-level homes and suburban Californian landscapes. Hockney is openly gay and several paintings by him; including Domestic Scene, Los Angeles; explore homosexuality. In 1990, Hockney was offered a knighthood but he declined. However, in January 2012, he accepted the Order of Merit from Queen Elizabeth II. In 2011, in a poll of more than 1,000 British artists, David Hockney was voted the most influential British artist of all time.

Masterpiece: A Bigger Splash (1967)

A Bigger Splash by David Hockney
A Bigger Splash (1967) – David Hockney

Other Famous Works:-

Mr and Mrs Clark and Percy (1971)

A Bigger Grand Canyon (1998)

 

#3 Keith Haring

Keith Haring
Keith Haring

Lifespan: May 4, 1958 – February 16, 1990

Nationality: American

Keith Haring was introduced to art at an early age by his father, who did cartooning as a hobby. In 1978, Haring arrived in New York and became aware of the thriving underground graffiti art scene there. He produced thousands of public drawings and became one of the most renowned graffiti artists. As public interest in his art grew, Haring had his first solo exhibition in 1981. In April 1986, Haring opened his Pop Shop, which made his work accessible at reasonable prices. He created several influential Pop Art pieces on social issues as well as on products like Absolut Vodka, Lucky Strike cigarettes and Coca-Cola. Keith Haring brought the elements of what was termed as “low art” into the formerly exclusive “high art” spaces of museums and galleries. His art is known for being deceptively simple while containing deeper themes of birth, death, love, sexuality, war and social harmony.

Masterpiece: Crack is Wack (1986)

Crack is Wack (1986)
Crack is Wack (1986) – Keith Haring

Other Famous Works:-

Tuttomondo (1989)

Free South Africa (1985)

 

#2 Roy Lichtenstein

Roy Lichtenstein
Roy Lichtenstein

Lifespan: October 27, 1923 – September 29, 1997

Nationality: American

Roy Lichtenstein initially worked in Cubism and Abstract Expressionism before moving to Pop Art, the genre in which he made his mark. The first time his work was exhibited, he was called a copycat by many art critics as his works closely resembled the originals. The Life magazine went to the extent of publishing an article whose title asked “Is He the Worst Artist in the U.S.?” Lichtenstein responded by saying, “The closer my work is to the original, the more threatening and critical the content”. With time, Roy Lichtenstein became one of the leading artists of the Pop Art movement, which dominated the American art world. His best known works, usually inspired by popular advertising and comic strips, have become iconic images of the movement.

Masterpiece: Whaam! (1963)

Whaam! by Roy Lichtenstein
Whaam! (1963) – Roy Lichtenstein

Other Famous Works:-

Drowning Girl (1963)

Oh, Jeff…I Love You, Too…But… (1964)

 

#1 Andy Warhol

Andy Warhol
Andy Warhol

Lifespan: August 6, 1928 – February 22, 1987

Nationality: American

Born Andrew Warhola, Andy Warhol is the best known and most influential artist of the Pop Art movement to the extent that he is known as the “Pope of Pop”. The non-painterly style and commercial aspects of his paintings initially caused offense as it affronted the technique and philosophy of abstract expressionism, the then dominant style in the United States. His works created an uproar in the American art world and the resulting controversy made Warhol a household name. Warhol was a prolific artist and he explored a wide variety of media including painting, silkscreening, photography, film and sculpture. His paintings are among the most expensive ever sold. The highest price paid for a Warhol painting is US$105 million for a 1963 canvas titled Silver Car Crash while, if one adjusts for inflation, his most expensive painting is Eight Elvises at US$111.2. Andy Warhol is without doubt the most famous Pop Artist.

Masterpiece: Marilyn Diptych (1962)

Marilyn Diptych by Andy Warhol
Marilyn Diptych (1962) – Andy Warhol

Other Famous Works:-

Campbell’s Soup Cans (1962)

Eight Elvises (1963)

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