What Is Pop Art? (Including 10 Examples)

Imagine taking an everyday object or something of the mundane and turning it into a work of art. Think colorful! Think, a bit of an ironic slap in the face to exclusive traditional fine arts. Think, a piece that has been produced to make it simple enough to use as a silk screen print reproduction.

Combine all of these factors, and you’ve got Pop Art! Pop Art is easy to spot with its bright colors and defined lines along with a recognizable subject matter, often something mundane or iconic images of famous people.

Pop Art is thick with satire

In a field that was traditionally considered to be exclusive to only those with proper artistic education and training, pop art emerged as an art movement. This often colorful and simplistic style blends popular and mass culture with fine art while throwing in some humor, irony, and images that are recognizable by the general population.

Pop art got its start in the United Kingdom and moved to America in the 1950s but didn’t really take off until the 1960s when the term “Pop Art” was officially introduced in December, 1962 a the Symposium on Pop Art. The movement challenged traditional fine art by producing images that were common in popular culture, like advertisements, comics, or basic mass-produced items.

Early artists that got the pop art movement off the ground on the British scene included names like Eduardo Paolozzi and Richard Hamilton who brought us pieces like Just What Is It That Makes Today’s Homes So Different, So Appealing? The image featured a modern day living room scene featuring a bodybuilder holding a Tootsie Pop, a scantly clad female next to a canned ham on the ottoman and spattering of images from brands and pop culture including a wall hanging of a comic book strip frame.

It is no surprise that many of the early pop artists had started their careers in commercial art as graphic designers, magazine illustrators, or billboard painters. This eclectic background of skill gave them an incredible understanding of mass culture combined with their technical abilities, merging the worlds of popular culture and art seamlessly. A couple of the most well known pop artists in America are Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein. Other names in pop art include Jim Dine, Robert Indiana and his LOVE stamp image, Keith Haring and his Radiant Baby, Ray Johnson, Claes Oldenburg, Ed Ruscha, James Rosenquist, and Tom Wesselmann.

Artists like Any Warhol sent the traditional artist elites all a flutter when he chose to draw a common, everyday soup can and then replicated it in its most simplistic form. His art pieces also brushed shoulders with Hollywood’s most famous stars when he transformed Marilyn Monroe’s image into squares of black and white and contrasting colors.

Roy Lichtenstein is also a big name in American pop art. Lichtenstein tended to use a comic strip look with a lot of parody in his work. His work often features Ben-Day dots that those of the digital age would probably call pixels. Ben-Day dots were the invention of Benjamin Henry in 1879. The process was used to provide colorful shading in printing early comics. Lichtenstein exaggerated these colors in large, bold dots, and he used thick outlines.

Let’s take a look at ten Pop Art images and talk about where to buy pop art in today’s market.

Woman typing on notebook keyboard

Woman typing on notebook keyboard pop art

Overly exaggerated elements of everyday life is a prime aspect of Pop Art. For many, typing on a computer notebook keyboard is a usual part of their day. This Pop Art rendition of the mundane adds in eye-catching colors that contrast each other, brings the common notebook to the forefront of the image, and puts an overly excited expression on the woman’s face. All of this is done in cartoon style with large circular colors called Ben-Day dots and a caricature-like portrait.

Space disco

Space disco pop art

Satire, fun, and color turns this Pop Art image into a communication piece that could even start arguments. The space age is also a popular subject matter. What exactly is the artist saying? Could it be shedding some inside light on what all of our top-notch rocket scientists really do when they go out into space? Maybe, it’s simply done for the fun of it to make the viewer snicker a bit. Whatever the intent, it is definitely Pop Art with many elements combined into one image and cartoon-like style.

Woman hugging a burger

Woman hugging a burger pop art

Pop Art also often communicates a bit of a soap opera comic book love drama element while defying logic and invoking a smile. This woman hugging a burger takes the idea of the boyfriend/girlfriend love scene and turns it into something outrageously silly. Yet, the artist gets the message across loud and clear. Obviously, it’s ridiculous to think that a woman and a burger could have a lasting love. Maybe this woman is done with relationships and finds more satisfaction in a burger.

Businesswoman in the workplace

Businesswoman in the workplace pop art

Similar in style to the British Pop Art image of Richard Hamilton with a very long title – Just What Is It That Makes Today’s Home So Different, So Appealing? – this Pop Art image is busier than many others with a lot of objects to discover. If you look closely, the style of her desk looks more like a vanity where she would powder her nose. Yet, it’s been transformed into a computer work station cluttered with interesting and satirical things.

The road to Mars

The road to Mars pop art

Sarcasm, satire, and defying logic are all elements used in the Pop Art movement. This Road To Mars picture expresses all of these key aspects in a cartoon style that even evokes a laugh. Imagine a cosmonaut attempting to drive to Mars when the car breaks down, and the trained NASA expert now literally becomes a hitchhiker in the galaxy. But, look closer. The image is also a satire of electric cars as it appears the car is unplugged with no charging station in sight.

Sweet banana on a selfie stick

Sweet banana on a selfie stick pop art

Did you laugh when you saw this image? Embrace the avant-garde side of the Pop Art Movement. It doesn’t have to make sense to be enjoyed. Is it making fun of those who become self-absorbed with taking selfies? Making a statement that often goes against the grain of commercialism or a self-centered society is part of what make Pop Art interesting and the center of discussion. Expressing your opinion in a cartoon-like image somehow makes it less offensive to the viewer.

Pop art superhero

Pop art superhero

Imagine Superman delivering you a package. Just one simple glance at the picture sort of makes you wonder what would be so important that it requires a superhero to deliver it? Regardless of what is inside, it sure beats waiting for the post office, but this Pop Art depiction expresses the satire that is at the root of the movement. It is more than a cool picture, but rather makes a clear statement in a non-offensive, fun cartoon-like style.

Tiger pop art

Tiger pop art

It looks as if this big cat got into some mischief in a paint store and is reminiscent of Andy Warhol’s endangered species prints, yet a bit more colorful. You know what they say about curiosity and cats, but don’t let the simplistic style fool you. It takes great skill to transform such an animal from their natural habitat and make them look as though they stepped into a child’s coloring book. An otherwise ferocious tiger becomes an almost playful work of art.

TV color test

TV color test pop art

This pop art rendering of SMPTE color bars is an excellent portrayal of the art movement. What better subject is there for a pop artist to take all of the colors of the test pattern and turn it into art. Like the test patterns that used to appear on television sets at the end of each broadcasting day, the SMPTE color bars are used to calibrate various video monitors. This piece brilliantly repeats the image using contrasting color boxes and tweaking the test pattern colors as well.

Elephant pop art

Elephant pop art

Look at the vibrant colors on an already beautifully mesmerizing animal. Even if this majestic creature is heading straight at you as head of a stampede, you wouldn’t be frightened. Bright, eye-catching colors are often used in Pop Art images to capture the viewer’s attention. It is also unexpected to take an otherwise gray animal and make them pop with color. Every wrinkle, and every detail that would otherwise be overlooked is accented especially with the all-black background and all-white tusks.

Where to buy and sell pop art?

From its beginnings, Pop Art was making a statement of breaking away from traditional fine arts shows filled with many rules that excluded many talented artists. Still, many Pop Art artists have a background of commercial art and are happy to make their art available for sale.

When Andy Warhol was alive, he hosted numerous Pop Art parties in his large renovated space in mid-town Manhattan called The Factory. Friends and strangers would come, hang out, and most likely go home with a new piece of Pop Art. But, the days of The Factory are long gone. So, where can you buy and sell this form of art today?

With the advent of the internet, most Pop Art is bought and sold online through Amazon, Etsy, Fineartamerica.com, or artrepublic.com. Let’s take a look at what each site has to offer.

Amazon

Many consumers flock to Amazon for everything they need. But, did you know they have a special section for artwork? Amazon provides an easy outlet for Pop Artists to sell their work and to be found by potential buyers. They offer more than wall prints. Some of the artwork has been printed on pillows and other household items.

Etsy

Etsy is a well-known platform for crafters and artists. When it comes to Pop Art, Etsy is a great go-to resource where artists post their creative works, and buyers can easily find items to purchase. Expect to find more than merely framed artwork on Etsy. Those who create pieces to sell on the platform like to express their art in many forms.

Fine Art America

You may not expect to find Pop Art at a site that calls itself Fineartamerica.com, but there is a lot to choose from. It is a premiere art selling site where artists can sell their original creations. Find wall prints, stationary, poster-sized works, and a wide variety of formats of your favorite works.

Art Republic

The artrepublic.com site offers something for everyone. Find a diverse range of art from emerging artists, established artists, and famous artists. Bespoke framework is also available with free delivery. Also browse the Curator picks of a variety of originals and prints of rare and hard-to-find artwork as well as originals from up-and-coming artists.

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