What is Pop Art?

Leading up until the 1950’s Art was traditionally separated from it’s mainstream audience. 
Art was considered valuable due to it’s aura, a term coined by Walter Benjamin. Art held high brow aesthetics and philosophies that were intellectually and financially out of reach for the mass audience to partake. This gave art it’s systematic value, however because of this separation, it allowed for the rise of the Pop Art Movement. 

The Pop Art movement was a wave of disruptive producers who created and played with lowbrow aesthetics, symbols, readymades and the technological advancements that resonated with the common man.

Pop art is an approach of creating that began during the 1950’s, Parallels of the movement started in England and the USA during a time of visual mass reproduction;

Film, music, advertising billboards began to decorate the streets.

The media began to promote and hence empower concepts of celebrities, consumer products and corporate brands across the collective conscious of society at the time. (Articulations, (2016.))

Pop art rose in response to the traditional artistic canon. Avant garde in its approach; Pop Art was born through conceptually responding the image saturated context of its era, with the new technological advancements that allowed for mass reproduction.

Andy Warhol is no doubt the Icon of the Pop art movement.

Warhol embraced new technologies aiming for mass artistic production of his works reflecting the mechanical age in which he was working. 
Warhols silk screens were a montage of photography, silk screen and printing that represented celebrity culture, and mass marketing of the 1960’s pop era. 
The role of the experimental artist was to abandon traditional methods of art and to further explore the materials of the mediums at hand challenging notions of consumer culture. This resulted in a range of alternative, largely abstract works and compositions.  
Warhol stated ‘ If you want to know all about Andy Warhol just look at the surface: of my paintings, my films and me, and there i am.”

Warhol was a self proclaimed commercial artist. His Campbell’s soup series blended the lines between art and advertising, where the soup tin stands as a signifier that point to Warhol in his career during 1962. As his fame grew with time, Warhol was interested in becoming a business artist, the power of his identity become a brand akin to the soup tins he silkscreened. This is evident in the Schrafft’s Ice cream commercial of 1968, where the brand contracted Warhol as a cultural influencer who could provide their brand with a hip edge. The commercial was screened on television paired with a print campaign that promoted the television advertisement as if it was a fine art spectacle not to be missed. (Athens, 2009)

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Image Via.

This is a great example of leveraging through collaboration. By collaborating and cross pollinating creative expertise as a way to strengthen the aesthetics of the project, it also widens the audience who is experiencing the work. 

In the electronic age of social networking and multi-platform publishing, creative partners have become not just your colleagues, rather you work together to further the reach of the work and of your artistic fame. A contemporary example of how creative content has been used to collaborate with branding can be seen through Vice Media. Vice has a clever way of creating short video content that at the same time promotes a brand.

In 2010, Vice would use it’s strength of content creation to launch a $25 million dollar deal with Intel titled “The Creators Project,” a multimedia series on art and technology that lead the way forward in the era of branded content. Rather than to place ads next to journalism, the ads were incorporated into the narrative. VICE began to blur the lines of what were the traditional boundaries between publishers and editors in a new style of advertorial. (Kay, P. (2018))

VIA: VICE.

Launched as a series of events in cities around the world, Creators showcased artists and musicians who used technology in their work. It has developed into an online experience attracting more than 800,000 YouTube subscribers, more than 265 million video views, and a back catalogue featuring more than 600 collaborators including French electronic music duo Daft Punk, Indie rockers Florence and the Machine, and Chinese artist Ai Weiwei. (Kay, P. (2018))

Tom Punch, Vice Media’s chief creative officer states “In one respect, it was servicing a community of artists and creators who were all innovating with technology. In other respects, the whole thing was one big product demonstration [for Intel processing chips].”

Some would argue that the commodification of this creativity transforms the work into a gimmicky remix of avant garde aesthetics. Others would believe it empowers the artists toward financial freedom and hence forward in un compromised making.

Warhol was unashamed in his approach to harness new technologies, his career covered many genres; photography, film, silkscreen, painting. His work impacted the collective consciousness by bringing commercial culture into art culture, “that is at the heart of both the aesthetic effect and historical significance of Warhol’s work.”

Marshall McLuhan stated, “It is the artists who will have to teach us how the media function, either by using the old media in a new way, by creating hybrid forms between different media or by working directly with the new media. (Ekbom 1966).

Looking back at the Pop Art movement with a millennial gaze, the approach to technology used by creative practitioners seems to resonate this idea. As technology develops the artists are the ones exploring the boundaries of the collective conscious. 

References:

Articulations. (2016, March 18). Understanding Pop Art. [Video File]. Source:

Athens, E. (2009). Andy warhol’s production kitchen. Gastronomica, 9(2), 45-50. doi:http://dx.doi.org.saeezproxy.idm.oclc.org/10.1525/gfc.2009.9.2.45

Kay, P. (April 18, 2018). How Vice Media Went from Start up to $5.7 Billion Global Behemoth : South China Morning Post. Source:

McLuhan, M. (2013). Understanding media : the extensions of man. Retrieved from https://ebookcentral.proquest.com –

Scheunemann, D (2005). Avant-garde/neo-avant-garde. Brill. (2005). Retrieved from:

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