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The history of pop art in america

Inspired by Schwitters who created collages from the refuse he picked up on the street, Rauschenberg combined real objects that he found in his New York neighborhood with collage and painting techniques. If I walked completely round the block and didn't have enough to work with, I could take one other block and walk around it in any direction — but that was it.

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This allowed him to experiment with contemporary images gathered from newspapers, magazines, television and film which he could reproduce in any size and color as a compositional element on a canvas or print. He used these elements in a way that mirrors our experience of mass-media.

Everyday we are bombarded with images from television, newspapers and magazines, disregarding most but retaining a few that relate, either consciously or subconsciously, to our individual experience and understanding. Rauschenberg's paintings capture this visual 'noise' in a framework of images whose narratives suggest some kind of ironic allegory. Rauschenberg was interested in our changing perception and interpretation of images: The composition recalls early religious icons where the central figure of Christ or a saint would have been surrounded by some smaller narrative panels.

An iconic image of the venerated President Kennedy, the most powerful man in the world who was assassinated in the previous year, holds the central position as he forcefully issues a the history of pop art in america. He points to the red image on his right which looks deceptively like Masaccio's 'Expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden' c. With the symbolic association of 'red' and the mushroom-shaped cloud hovering above the president's head, this could easily be interpreted as a cold war reference to the Cuban Missile Crisis, ironically using a creation allegory to represent the Doomsday scenario.

However, Rauschenberg is not that simple. While a single apple is a metaphor for Original Sin in Renaissance paintings of Adam and Eve, in 'Retroactive 1' an astronaut parachutes back to earth only to land in an upturned box of the 'forbidden fruit' - a symbol of how man's potential for evil has multiplied in the modern world in Latin, the words for 'apple' and 'evil' are identical in their plural form: Rauschenberg extends his metaphor by illustrating in the top right of the painting what the astronaut is returning to: Eden after the Fall - a world polluted by industrialisation.

He originally worked as a 'commercial artist' and his subject matter was derived from the imagery of mass-culture: Warhol embodied the spirit of American popular culture and elevated its imagery to the status of museum art. He used second-hand images of celebrities and consumer products which he believed had an intrinsic banality that made them more interesting.

He felt that they had been stripped of their meaning and emotional presence through their mass-exposure.

American Pop Art

Typically subverting the values of the art establishment, Warhol was fascinated by this banality which he celebrated in a series of subjects ranging from celebrities to soup cans. A coke is a coke and no amount of money can get you a better coke than the one the bum on the corner is drinking. All the cokes are the same and all the cokes are good. Liz Taylor knows it, the President knows it, the bum knows it, and you know it.

He was really a Dadaist in spirit - an 'agent provocateur'. His many whimsical proclamations about art were deliberately enigmatic and contrary, avoiding clarification and forcing his audience to speculate on their meaning: I never like to give my background and, anyway, I make it all up different every time I'm asked. He cultivated his own image like a business model which was inseparable from his art.

British Pop Art

He said, "I started as a commercial artist, and I want to finish as a business artist. Being good in business is the most fascinating kind of art. He claimed to have removed both craftsmanship and personality from his own art: If you want to know all about Andy Warhol, just look at the surface of my paintings and films and me, there I am. There's nothing behind it. Warhol's paradoxical statements such as, "I am a deeply superficial person" or "art should be meaningful in the most shallow way" are echoed in his work.

Their combined panels are a memorable discourse on the nature of celebrity and its power to both create and destroy its acquaintances. The 'diptych' format was originally used in medieval painting the history of pop art in america religious images of personal devotion, an appropriate choice considering Warhol's fascination for Marilyn Monroe.

The work was exhibited in Warhol's first New York exhibition at the Stable Gallery in November 1962, just weeks after Marilyn's death from 'acute barbiturate poisoning'. The Marilyn Diptych, along with his other famous Marilyn paintings, is based on a 1953 publicity photograph for the film 'Niagara' that Warhol purchased only days after she died.

American Pop Art

It was a style that was fixed in its format: What actually changed through the development of Lichtenstein's art was his subject matter which evolved from comic strips to an exploration of modernist art styles: Roy Lichtenstein's early work had a hint of Americana - "Expressionistic Cubism.

Bored with the glut of Expressionist feeling that was around at the time, Lichtenstein attacked this sagging tradition with paintings like 'Look Mickey' 1961a large scale cartoon image which "was done from a bubble gum wrapper" a detail of this work can be seen in 'The Artist's Studio No.

His comic strip images had an initial shock value, but like much of Pop they were quickly embraced by the galleries and collectors. Lichtenstein remarked, "It was hard to get a painting that was despicable enough so that no one would hang it. It was almost acceptable to hang a dripping paint rag, everybody was accustomed to this. The one thing everyone hated was commercial art; apparently they didn't hate that enough, either. I don't think that I look on my work as being anti-art or anything that's different from the mainstream of painting since the Renaissance.

The discipline of the work is cerebral with little left to impulse or emotion or what he calls 'the character of art'. I think it can be read that way. People mistake the character of line for the character of art. You can get an idea of this effect on David Barsalou's Lichtenstein Project. As his style developed he move away from using the imagery the history of pop art in america comics to interpreting modernist art styles, but still in his comic book vernacular.

Lichtenstein was able to maintain this singular style for over thirty five years, not simply by varying his subject matter, but by viewing his art as an independent entity with an existence and development that he controlled, "I like to pretend that my art has nothing to do with me.