POP ART A REVOLUTIONARY ART MOVEMENT IN THE 1960’S WHICH HIGHLIGHTED THE IMPORTANCE OF THE MASS MEDIA.[TELEVISION CINEMA POPULAR COMICS AND MAGAZINES] AN APPRECIATION OF TWO AMERICAN POP ARTISTS WHO WERE PART OF THIS TRADITION: ANDY WARHOL(1930-1987) AND ROY LICHENSTEIN( 1923-1997) PART 2.

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In the second part of my retrospective on Pop art I am going to consider further commentaries by art critics of the time . Lawrence Alloway in his ‘Art and the Mass Media’ clarified the whole relationship of Pop to society. ” The masses are today exercising functions in social life which coincide with those which hitherto seemed reserved to minorities. as a result the elite accustomed to set aesthetic standards has that it no longer possesses   the power to dominate all aspects of art”.[1].

Alloway further comments ” it is in this situation we need to consider the arts of the mass media. A summary of the opposition to mass popular art is by Clement Greenberg an art critic , but fatally prejudiced when he leaves Modern Fine art”.[2].

” Popular art as a whole , offers imagery and plots to control the changes in the world, everything in our culture that changes is the material of the popular arts”. [3].

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Roy Lichenstein in his lecture to a college art association also had some opinions on the nature of Pop art. ” Pop art may be seen as a product of two 20th century tendencies , one from the outside- the subject matter and the other from within an esthetic sensibility the subject matter is of course -commercialism and commercial art. Commercial art is not our art. it is our subject matter and in that sense it is nature”.[4].

Commenting further Lichenstein has this to say ” Commercial art runs contrary to a major art current in the sense that it concentrates on things rather than environment , on figure rather than ground”.[5].

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Thomas Crow an America Marxist art critic considers the role of Pop and in  particular  Andy Warhol. ” An earlier visitor far more in tune with the Art of the city was Andy Warhol who was showing at the Ferus Gallery (American City) in 1963″. [6].

Making comparisons between Warhol and Ed Ruscha  who I will consider in another posting Crow comments ” Warhol’s first exhibition for Blum (Art Curator) precisely anticipated Ruscha’s  photo books in revealing the diagnostic capability of repetitive serial procedure, the gallery was given over to the entire series of 32 individual Campbell soup can portraits”.[7].

” Into this category for example falls his most famous portrait series of Marilyn Monroe which is as much about the pathos of celebrity identification as about celebration of the star”[8].

Warhol’s pictures especially of disasters shows that he had a political dimension to his discussion of the Kennedy’s and their problems. Crow confirms this in his next comment. ” He (Warhol) was attracted to the open sores in American political life, the issues that were most problematic for liberal democratic politicians such as John and Robert Kennedy”. [9].

Crow by identifying the political interest depicts  Warhol as an astute commentator of political life , many bourgeois commentators have only highlighted Warhol’s life style without recognising what drove Warhol to paint and develop the direction of Popular art into analysing what was happening in Society.

” In the series on the most violent phase of Civil rights demonstrations in the south the Race Riot painting of 1963 political life took on the same nightmare colouring that saturates so much of his other work”.[10].

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John Roberts another art Historian in his ‘Warhol’s factory :Painting and the mass cultural spectator’ offers a unique way of looking at Warhol’s factory or his collective in using assistants and colleagues in his produced screen printing as well as the Films he was engaged in. Warhol was heavily influenced by Duchamp in showing that most of his art was finished or mass produced by this factory collective very similar to the Guild system around the time of Da Vinci , Michaelangelo  and Jan Van Eyck.

” It is Warhol’s singular pursuit of this collective life in the studio that is crucial to our assessment  of what is radical about his art in the early 1960’s”. [11].

Roberts continues to show that Pop art was a reaction to abstract Expressionism and it set out to critique the Modernism of Greenberg and Fried. ” A number of younger American artists set out to critique and displace the expressionist sublime of abstract expressionism”.[12].

” On the contrary what attracted him to notions of teamwork, (Warhol) collaborative practice and mechanical reproduction was that they dissolved the ego”. [13].

Roberts shows how widespread his interests were unlike the Abstract expressionists who only dealt in one medium painting. ” Hence (Warhol) his extensive range of collaborations across different media (Film , silkscreen printing, music and book design). [14].

” Warhol embarked on this modernist pictoralism in the early 1960’s in his non silkscreen paintings which employed comic book details and commodity images and advertising slogans”. [15].

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Roberts referring to Warhol makes these further comments on his paintings.” Rather he wanted a painting that actually invoked and reproduced the life of the mass produced image under Capitalism (Soup tins). Hence from 1963 there is a discernible rejection by Warhol of the aesthetic painterly signifers”.[16]

Roberts continues to show that Warhol and others sought to attack the high art so prevalent in Modernism as described by Greenberg and Fried.

” Much of his Art (Warhol) during this period is practised in what might be called a queering and devirilising of High culture, mass culture and Industrial Society”. [17].

” The heightened artificiality , repitions  and slippages of the images, and the blankness and flatness of the canvass ground”. [18].

Concluding his commentary on Warhol Roberts has this to say. ” Warhol above all wanted to bring enchantment to the commodity and to the machine and the best way to do this he believed was to contrive to invest in the mechanically produced painting”. [19].

This concludes my second part of my retrospective into Pop Art in which I showed the revolutionary aspects of art which involved a compass of paintings in  Film , Book design, printing and screen printing. How  an array of different disciplines could affect society in subtle ways. Too many bourgeois commentators saw only Pop art as a flippant theatrical art form when in fact it was a revolutionary art form that once and for all would demolish the Modernist canon that Clement Greenberg and Michael fried had erected.

FOOTNOTES

1 )  ART IN THEORY 1900-2000 EDITED BY CHARLES HARRISON AND PAUL WOOD : LAWRENCE ALLOWAY THE ARTS AND MASS MEDIA PG.715

2 ) DITTO PG.715

3) DITTO PG.716

4) ART IN THEORY 1900-2000 EDITED BY CHARLES HARRISON AND PAUL WOOD : ROY LICHENSTEIN LECTURE TO THE COLLEGE ART ASSOCIATION PG. 750

5)  DITTO. PG.750

6) THE RISE OF THE SIXTIES THOMAS CROW PG.84

7) DITTO.PG. 85

8) DITTO PG.86

9) DITTO PG.86

10) DITTO PG.87

11) VARIETIES OF MODERNISM OPEN UNIVERSITY: WARHOL’S FACTORY: PAINTING AND THE MASS CULTURAL SPECTATOR. PG.341

12) DITTO PG.342

13) DITTO PG.344

14) DITTO PG.345

15) DITTO PG.347

16) DITTO PG. 347

17)  DITTO PG .356

18)  DITTO PG. 357

19)  DITTO PG. 359

 

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4 thoughts on “POP ART A REVOLUTIONARY ART MOVEMENT IN THE 1960’S WHICH HIGHLIGHTED THE IMPORTANCE OF THE MASS MEDIA.[TELEVISION CINEMA POPULAR COMICS AND MAGAZINES] AN APPRECIATION OF TWO AMERICAN POP ARTISTS WHO WERE PART OF THIS TRADITION: ANDY WARHOL(1930-1987) AND ROY LICHENSTEIN( 1923-1997) PART 2.”

    1. Thanks Paul,
      I have revaluated Warhol and he definitely was a genius who as well as paint could screen print , make films and other
      design capabilities like book design etc. He for me led the way especially with the Factory which was very similar to the Guild systems in the 13th and14th centuries . artists like Van Eyck and Leonardo Da Vinci had assistants in the guilds who worked with them very similar to Warhol’s Factory. Laurence

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I really admire Warhol for encouraging the musicians in The Velvet Underground by allowing them to practice at The Factory and letting them essentially be the “house band” there. I once went to where the first Factory was (or at least the one from that era…circa 1966 or so). They tore it down and constructed a parking garage. But I sat there with my Walkman and listened to The Velvet Underground and tried to imagine those Factory days at a little fountain on 47th across from the site. There was an old YMCA building across the street…not far from Union Square Park. –Paul

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Paul , you are absolutely right , Warhol was a great innovator Revolutionary in thought thanks for sharing your views on the Velvet Underground he was ready to help and assist and there is no doubt that he made a great contribution to all aspects of the Media , there are very few artists who have done that Laurence

        Liked by 1 person

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