Over the last fifty years, Pop Art has experienced dramatic changes in themes, styles and content. As an art form that draws inspiration from mass media and consumerism, it has necessarily evolved alongside a modernizing world. During the Golden Age of Pop Art, a handful of Pop Art artists explored bold new means of expression. Each of these artists contributed a unique influence to this varied art form that would forever change the history of the art genre. Some of the original pioneers include Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, and Tom Wesselmann.
Roy Lichtenstein taught as a professor at the State University of New York at Oswego before pursuing art. It was not until the early 1960’s that Lichtenstein began his career as ant artist. His early paintings earned him national attention as they used cartoons and images that were derived from commercial print production. His style evolved as his later works featured thick outlines, vibrant colors and Ben-Day dots. His most famous works include Drowning Girl (1963), which is currently on display at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.
Despite his lifelong passion, Tom Wesselmann turned his full attention to art only after a two year enlistment in the Army and obtaining a degree in psychology. Although most commonly remembered for his collages, his original focus was on the classical representation of nudes, still life and landscapes. He received national praise after his series Great American Nude, which utilized flat forms and intense colors.
Andy Warhol is probably the best known of the original Pop Art. He began as a commercial artist creating illustrations and advertisements during the 1950’s. His career in art began in 1962 with a solo exhibit in California that garnered national attention. He was renowned for utilizing the repetition of Hollywood icons and common household items in his work. In 2009, his Eight Elvises piece, an acrylic on canvass with eight overlapping images of Elvis, sold for 100 million dollars. The price for this single piece places him in the company of such revered artists as Pablo Picasso and Vincent Van Gogh.
During the 1960’s, these three classic Pop Art artists helped create a movement which made art more accessible to the public. They used styles, themes and content which were familiar to the average American and contained a decipherable message. More recently, contemporary artists such as Romero Britto, Carlos A. Navarro, and Tim Rogerson have employed the use of vibrant mediums and colors to create the Neo-Pop Art movement. This new generation has begun to blur the line between art and retail design.