Known for colourful prints of pop culture iconography, artist Andy Warhol has become synonymous with the pop art movement. However, pop art originated many years before Warhol first inhabited The Factory in New York City.
In fact, pop art first originated in Britain in the late 1950s, with a group of artists known as the Independent Group. Artists like Richard Hamilton and Peter Blake turned to pop culture iconography for inspiration and soon the movement would travel to the United States, before becoming a global phenomenon that still thrives today, long outliving the career of Warhol.
In light of this, we look at seven other pop artists that every great collection should include.
Rising to recognition in the 1960s, Roy Lichtenstein was renowned for his bright and bold reimaginations of cartoon strips. Often painting in primary colours and in a Ben-Day dot style that emulates the printing process, Lichtenstein was a leading figure in the pop art movement. His works are instantly recognisable, frequently depicting helpless heroines or military scenes. His characters are often mid-action, with onomatopoeic bursts of sound and emphatic speech bubbles becoming a central element of the artist’s work.
A contemporary to Warhol, Haring was also present in the New York pop art scene. Creating art in the decades after Warhol, Lichtenstein, Oldenburg and Rosenquist pioneered the genre in the United States, Haring took his own take on pop. Believing that art is for everybody, Haring turned the subway system to debut his drawings, reaching a wide audience of people both young and old. Moving pop art away from a gallery setting, Haring fused the accessibility and politicism of street art with the digestible vernacular of pop.
Associated with conceptualism as well as minimalism, Jeff Koons’ practice spans many genres. However, at the core of his work lies the basis of pop. Koons’ art considers the banal and the everyday, transforming ordinary objects like balloon animals and children’s toys into fine art. Using vibrant colours and his signature reflective metal to alter ‘cheap’ objects, Koons encourages the viewer to reconsider what they consider as valuable, blurring lines between high and low culture.
Known for his bold graphic renderings of everyday people, Julian Opie treads the line between graphic design, minimalism and pop. Creating highly stylised portraits, Opie’s characters are instantly recognisable with their thick black outlines and vast swathes of flat colour. His vivid palette emulates the vibrant aesthetic of pop and in 2000, Opie created the album artwork for the Britpop band Blur, Blur: The Best of 2000, further cementing the artist as being involved with ‘popular’ art.
Considered the pioneer of contemporary Japanese pop art, otherwise known as Superflat, Murakami represents the global appeal of pop. Superflat is a post-modern art movement influenced by Japanese popular culture like anime and manga. The term was coined by Murakami himself in 2001 and is closely related to the wider pop movement, with both taking inspiration from their everyday surrounding culture. Although originating in Japan, Superflat has become an international phenomenon and a favourite amongst collectors and critics across the globe.
Painting faceless portraits of iconic celebrities, Coco Dávez relies upon key features and recognisable colour palettes to distinctly capture the personality of some of the world’s most celebrated faces. Highlighting Kusama’s iconic bob or Prince’s purple palette, the Spanish painter capitalises upon celebrity culture, highlighting society’s fascination with famous people and their steadfast place in the collective consciousness of the everyday man.
Sibling duo Renato and Roberto Miaz challenge traditional notions of painting with their blurred depictions of a range of subjects, illustrating everything from soup cans to Old Master paintings. Although not considered pop artists, in 2020 the duo created a series of work depicting consumer items with iconic packaging including Coco-Cola bottles, Campbell’s Soup and Chanel N.5 perfume. Echoing the subjects of some of Warhol’s most famous screenprints, the series was undoubtedly a nod to the genre.