Category Archives: Week 7

Modern Equivalents: The Importance of Process

The debate over Lichtenstein’s embrace of the Benday dot and its ensuing relationship and preservation with original processes shines a spotlight on the longevity (or lack there of) of pop art. Upon Lichtenstein’s shift away from comics and re-worked art, the high esteem with which he was originally/commonly associated quickly gave way to a sort of tolerance for increasingly distancing attempts at applying the same tired idea to everything under the sun. This one-trick-pony revelation called into question the tendency for pop art and pop artists to wear out their welcome in their attempts to compound previous successes and commentaries.

“Like many creative figures before and since, Lichtenstein eventually ran his art into the quicksand of a particular style, ending up simply as a mannerist.” – Shanes 41


But how do we react to similar moving image works? How is the implied process behind something as ubiquitous as Legos reminiscent of  both the half-tone Benday dots with the added time consuming complexity of LEGOS+stop motion?

Many of the more interesting chapters of pop art history include the failures and misfirings of many of the movement’s most notable icons. Warhol’s reactionary attempts to purposefully elevate his work to the realm of fine art (in reaction to Johns and Rauschenberg shows in 1958) tend to highlight the degree to which society is/n’t willing to look at itself in the proverbial mirror while also hinting at how the pop art movement lost its perceived purity as it gained more and more traction within mainstream culture. From neo-Dadaism, to sloppy Coke bottles, to a rip off of Lichtenstein’s Benday dot comics, Warhol un/surprisingly struggled with originality while simultaneously embodying an artistic movement built atop associations.

“But if he was a largely associative artist he did possess the rare ability to project huge implications through the mental connections he set in motion (as with the parallels he drew between pictorial repetitiousness and industrial repetitiousness).” – Shanes 44

However, the conundrum of artist originality in an increasingly crowded field (defined by the common) gave rise to an healthy emphasis on (and perhaps newfound respect for) the production process. Perhaps eventually becoming a means of distinguishing one artist from the next, pop art gave rise to a new understanding of industrialized processes and their impacts. The audience’s realization that without knowledge of the processes behind an object’s production ( or even inception) the true meaning of the artwork would be lost, caused audiences to dig a little deeper into the object’s history and simultaneously into their own society’s history.

While much of pop art’s success can be linked to the movement’s insight into greater cultural through-lines, it seems that the use of irony, humorous juxtaposition, and playful critique are key reasons for its original uptake and popularity. However, mass culture is often defined through tragedy and Warhol’s tackling of death and disaster certainly ruffled a few feathers. From his depiction of the FBI’s Most Wanted to the newspaper headline of a recent plane crash, Warhol dominated the headlines in unconventional ways. However, what makes these works resonate in a meaningful manner is the fact that the same artist who was celebrated for his depiction of Cambell soup cans is also the same artist who would depict such somber and ghastly images. It seems that juxtaposition defined much of the pop art movement, not necessarily solely within a single piece but rather across various careers.

Similarly noted in more modern reactions to national tragedy.


Works Cited:

Meslow, Scott. 12 early short films by famous Hollywood directors. The 2013.

Shanes, Eric. Pop Art. New York: Parkstone Int’l.  2009. Print.

Retrospect of Rauschenberg and Combinatorial Art

When doing the readings I felt compelled to write about Rauschenberg and the hybridity of his “collage”- like paintings and sculptures. It’s thanks to him that many Americans began to think that all art can be a combination of virtually any item. “It is largely, if not exclusively, thanks to Robert Rauschenberg that Americans since the 1950’s have come to think that art can be made out of anything, exist anywhere, last forever or just for a moment and serve almost any purpose or no purpose at all except to suggest that the stuff of life and the stuff of art are ultimately one and the same” (Kimmelman). Combinatorial art, appropriation, “low sources” to “high art,” real objects, and pop culture, all play a role in how pop art came to be the style of the 1960s-1980s.

Three works of his that particularly stood out to me were his, “Statue of Liberty” (1983), “Signs” (1970), and “Spring Clearance” (1961). Pop art it embodied in these three works within appropriation and combinatorial art. In all three photos you see that they aren’t items that you might think go together. For example, in “Signs,” you see JFK and an astronaut, but also Martin Luther King Jr., military officials, a group of people throwing up the peace sign, etc. It’s a combination of many people and movements that represent the time period. “Statue of Liberty,” combines different perspectives and close-ups of the statue itself (from the dress to the crown, etc.). “Spring Clearance” is more of a statement of the chaos in my opinion, of what spring clearance is like. You can make out a mixture of concrete items within the organized chaos of the painting.




“Statue of Liberty”







“Spring Clearance”


Slight appropriation is at times used within pop art in order to create something newer to the times that models previous work – many individuals have tried to capture the beauty of the statue of liberty or the profile of JFK. Rauschenberg took everyday peoples, places, landmarks, etc. and made them his own, making it seem as if he took a few pictures and put them together, rearranging the pieces.

Furthermore, many artists in this time period used basic items in their new pop art work. Like Rauschenberg used buttons, regular people, tires, animals, etc., so did other artists of the time period. By creating art with normal items that we see in everyday life, we promote these “low sources” into “high art.” For example, in Rauschenberg’s “Spring Clearance,” there are various low source items within the painting, as in many of his sculptures and other pop art creations.  I think this arrangement of discrete elements makes the art more relatable. It’s a mix of emotions that use real life events, objects, people, and basic items that adds meaning. Everyone looking at this art experiences many of these things on a day to day basis, or has experienced the event that is being portrayed within the painting. Pop art through Rauschenberg portrays real objects as things not the representation of them. It allows the audience to appreciate and see the beauty in the combinations and mixtures of simple items we see frequently. “I really feel sorry for people who think things like soap dishes or mirror or Coke bottles are ugly, because they’re surrounded by things like that all day long, and it must make them miserable.”

Hamilton also suggests that, “It [pop art] must entail a deconstructing of the mediated image-word bite that hails us from magazines, billboards, television, and now computers too. These artworks make us think; deconstructing them allows us to see the pop culture, social, political, and technological happenings of the time, that takes us away from TV, computers, etc.

Pop art came to be the style of the 1960s-1980s within Rauschenberg’s contribution of combinatorial art, appropriation, “low sources” to “high art,” real objects, and pop culture. These can all be mixed together in order to effectively create a popular art form.

Relating pop art of the 60s – 80s (as well as many other eras of art), other than Rauschenberg, a place in today’s society brings them all together and appropriates the appropriated. “Grounds for Sculpture” is a place in Trenton, NJ that showcases many paintings and sculptures of various artists. “Grounds For Sculpture was established in 1992 to promote an understanding of and appreciation for contemporary sculpture for all people…”

(Find the Grounds for Sculpture website here: Grounds for Sculpture)

The reason I find this place compelling and related to this week’s readings, is because of something Warhol said: “Pop art took the inside and put it outside, took the outside and put it inside.” Within the 42 acres of this place that is available for the public to walk around and physically experience many eras of sculptures and paintings of art, which embodies the realism and inside/outside theory that Warhol emphasized. Even though it doesn’t focus on Rauschenberg’s work, I think this is worth mentioning, since it takes real art and puts it in a setting that is relatable to every day humans. Many sculptures remind me of Manet’s paintings, who was credited with starting part of the movement of modern art, leading to the topic of discussion: pop art.

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IMG_02691-400x300 tanktrips_web1



Hal Foster, “On the First Pop Age,” New Left Review 19, January-February 2003.

Interview with Foster on the main ideas in his recent book, The First Pop Age (Princeton Univ. Press, 2011)

Martin Irvine, Dialogism and the Cultural Encyclopedia through Pop and Appropriation Art(presentation) (also for class discussion)

Michael Kimmelman, “Art Out of Anything,” Review of Robert Rauschenberg, Combines, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York Times, 12.23.2005.

“Mission.” Grounds For Sculpture. N.p., 2005. Web. 24 Feb. 2014. <>.

Pop Art Meets the Rock Band

Emily Rothkopf

Pop Art, like a 1960’s rock band, was a rebel, breaking its industry’s established mold and using its platform as a means for commentary on popular culture.  “It was a ‘cool’ or emotionally distanced response to the world, an orientation towards youth and hedonism, and witty irreverence about everything ranging from religion to art,” (Shanes 2009).  It’s no wonder that the Pop Art movement and the Rock ‘n’ Roll era collided in the examples below.

The Beatles Sgt. Pepper’s Album Cover

By the late 1960s, The Beatles began to shed their “Beatlemania” image – one that evoked a classic boy-band charm and mass appeal.  The psychedelic era had taken over with its vivid colors and textured fabrics, in sharp contrast to the traditional monochromatic, simplistic imagery of the previous regime.  The Beatles 1967 album cover for Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band clearly depicts this shift.  The Beatles, in conjunction with artists Peter Blake and Jann Haworth, created the cover in a Pop Art format that simultaneously celebrated popular culture and parodied the “vacuity of mass-consumption, as typified by…objects of worship such as…the pop idol and the Hollywood superstar” (Shanes 2009).

Blake and Haworth’s creation was unlike anything the art world had ever seen and is oft imitated to this day.  In broad terms, it was a densely arranged collage that was constructed in a life-size set.  The overly colorful collage was a “who’s-who” in pop culture, consisting of cut-out, black-and-white celebrity photographs, and wax and stuffed cloth figures.  One of the notable cloth figures was of Shirley Temple, adorned in a “Welcome The Rolling Stones” sweater (Wikipedia 2014), which depicted the depth and reach of the mass-consumption culture.  The cut-outs were pasted onto hardboard, which Haworth hand-tinted, giving them a more eclectic vibe.  A variety of props were also added to the set, including: a flower bed, a drum, a hookah and a 9-inch Sony television set (Hutchinson 2013).  This wide range of items symbolizes the mass-consumption again, not only in a literal sense with items like a television set, but also in a metaphorical sense with the crowded, excess feel of the final image.

File:Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.jpg

The Beatles 1967 Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album cover; source:

The Rolling Stones Some Girls Album Cover

Almost a decade later, The Rolling Stones released Some Girls with a similarly Pop Art inspired album cover.  Artists Peter Corriston and Hubert Kretzschmar designed the cover that featured The Rolling Stones in garish drag alongside select female celebrities and magazine ads (Wikipedia 2014).  Kretzschmar used the collage technique, taking black-and-white celebrity photographs from entertainment tabloids, movie stills, and Hollywood press material.  Corriston employed dye cutting and borrowed wig ads from Jet magazine in his work.  The result was a bold, graphic look (Hood 2011).

One of the themes in Pop Art as depicted in the Some Girls album cover, is society’s obsession with beauty and the female icon.  Many works in this genre portray the perfectly coiffed female as if she has just left the salon.  Additionally, a female celebrity is often incorporated with colored lips or eye shadow by tinting an original black-and-white image.  The Some Girls cover takes this a step further directly transposing the celebrity images, with imperfectly tinted red lips, into wig ads.  The female images alone evoke a comedic vibe — a parody of the beauty salon culture.  The male band members in drag simply cement the comedic intent.

File:Some Girls.png

The Rolling Stones 1978 Some Girls original album cover; source:


The collage style found in these notable album covers is perhaps the precursor to today’s photoshopped and remixed culture.  Pop Art of the 1960s – 1980s had a more shocking, overtly cut-and-paste approach to the remix, whereas today’s works tend to be more blended, and easily understood and accepted.  Perhaps the concepts behind Pop Art have just become a norm for all art forms.  So while the traditional rock band as the baby-boomer generation knew it may have died, Pop Art is still alive and well in the music world…

File:Artpop cover.png

Lady Gaga’s 2013 Artpop album cover; source:

Works Cited

Hood, John. “Some Girls: The Facts About the Stones’ Most Notorious Record Cover.” The Huffington Post., 27 Dec. 2011. Web. 24 Feb. 2014.

Hutchinson, Lydia. “The Sgt. Pepper’s Album Cover: Faces in the Crowd.” Performing Songwriter. Performing Songwriter Ent. LLC, 30 Mar. 2013. Web. 24 Feb. 2014

“Jann Haworth.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 17 Feb. 2014. Web. 24 Feb. 2014.

Kimmelman, Michael. “Art Out of Anything: Rauschenberg in Retrospect.” The New York Times, 23 Dec. 2005. Web. 24 Feb. 2014.

Shanes, Eric. Pop Art. N.p.: Parkstone International, 2009. Print.

“Some Girls.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 19 Feb. 2014. Web. 24 Feb. 2014.


Hockney and Pop Art?

Using the conceptual presentation of combinatoriality in visual art in “Remix and the Dialogic Engine of Culture” (Irvine), I will take a closer look at two works by David Hockney in the 1960s. Irvine’s discussion focuses on the fact that artists using collage, montage and mass media sources can be understood as “working intuitively and heuristically though the generative, recursive combinatorial rules for the new symbolic systems in art genres to create hybrid forms as nodes in new networks of meaning.” Understanding the references embedded in these artworks (cultural encyclopedia references not always explicitly quoted) is necessary to understanding the individual artworks.

With this understanding of artists’ use of combinatoriality and appropriation, exemplified by the use of image units from multiple sources (mass media and even other artworks) to create new, hybrid art works, I will turn to two Hockney pieces, “A Lawn Being Sprinkled” (1967) and “A Bigger Splash” (1967). While both of these works are acrylic on canvas paintings–not collages with photographs or mixed media like the works of Rauschenberg we’ve looked at, and not explicit appropriation of advertisements or iconic images like the works of Warhol we’ve seen–they nevertheless can be understood as works of ‘pop art.’ Aestheticizing pop culture and commodity objects is one method of creating pop art. Hockney’s works can also be seen commenting on consumer culture by representing a type of lifestyle in his paintings (without explicitly representing people in either of the works examined here).

A Lawn Being Sprinkled,”Hockney plays with flatness and perspective, and uses vibrant colors (the bright green of the lawn especially stands out), reminiscent of other works of pop art. There are large blocks of color representing elements of the painting–the sky is painted as one block of blue, the structure of the house is also painted in a block-like way. The flatness of the representational elements and lack of texture sets this painting apart from other paintings depicting similar subjects. The subject of the painting, in turn, is significant symbolically. The visual elements of the painting– like the lawn, sprinklers, traditionally structured house, and vegetation–all come together to communicate an image of leisurely living in California. The lush yard, fence and house seem to function as symbols of successful, orderly  and quiet domestic life.

A Bigger Splash” likewise represents peaceful and orderly  leisure, depicting a swimming pool in the back yard of a home with a diving board off of which someone has just jumped. Hockney also uses flatness, big swaths of color, and straight rectangular shapes  to represent this domestic scene. The blue of the pool and sky are both bright and flat. The diving board, a flat yellow, contrasts sharply with the blues. According to a summary of the painting on the Tate’s website, Hockney’s depiction of the splash was deliberately meant to mimic the way in which a photograph would capture it. Both “A Bigger Splash” and “A Lawn Being Sprinkled” evoke an idea about domesticity and leisure life in an orderly, bright, and visually striking way. Because of the subject matter –pulling no doubt from representations in advertising, mass media and popular culture–and their technical renderings, these Hockney paintings can be understood as pop art paintings.

Works Cited

Irvine, Martin. “Remix and the Dialogic Engine of Culture.”

Kinley, Catherine, and Elizabeth Manchester. “David Hockney: A Bigger Splash 1967.”Tate Artworks. Tate, Mar. 2013. Web. 20 Feb. 2014. <>.

Pop Goes Paolozzi

As discussed in a previous post, intertextuality is a theory which is often used to describe the ways texts relate to and reference other distinct texts. Of course the theory of intertextuality would lend itself to art, as pieces are of art are simply organized pieces of separate texts. Perhaps no better era of modern art best exemplified the notions of hybridity and intertextuality than the pop art movement begun in the late 1950s.

The pop art movement can be simply described as a challenge to long held conventions of classical fine art; traditions kept sacrosanct for nearly a millennia. Pop is essential postmodernism, utilizing texts from mass culture, often incorporating found items, and subverting the materials original employment to make comment on the elitist nature of the art world, or of the culture at large. The use of materiality is most interesting in the critique so often rendered in such pieces, criticizing the commercial consumerist nature of Western culture by using throw-away items from said culture, everything from comic books to tin cans were used to make such commentary.

One of the most influential of the artists of this period was Scotsman Eduardo Paolozzi, and as the focus of this post, three of his more iconic collages will be discussed. Paolozzi was an earlier forerunner of the postmodern art movement, and a prominent surrealist who worked in a wide variety of mediums including screen printing, found object, ceramics, and perhaps best known for his intricate sculptures. Writes Toiani (2000), “Impressed by the Surrealists experimentation with ‘readymade metaphors’ using objet trouve or found objects, Paolozzi used images found in American magazines to create his collages” (p. 3). Paolozzi became well known as a founder of the Independent Group (IG) in 1952, whose members included such luminaries as artist Richard Hamilton, sculptor William Turnbull, photographer Nigel Henderson, architects Alison and Peter Smithson, and critic Lawrence Alloway. It was here where he first exhibited what can be argued a seminal piece of pop art canon, I was a Rich Man’s Plaything (1947).

Messages Image(1415682102)

“Eduardo Paolozzi presented to this assembly a chaotic collection of clippings and collages that he called Bunk!, which involved a number of theoretical proposals, among them that the hierarchy between high art and popular culture-industrial design” (Myers, 2000, p. 65).

I was a Rich Man’s Plaything was composed of images mostly from a number of magazines given to Paolozzi from American ex-servicemen. (Tate, 2012), and that the use of such “advertising images from American magazines was formative and fed into a general collaborative interest in such material” (Stonard, 2007, p. 609). Amongst the artists affiliated with the IG tear sheets of advertising images were readily available in homes and studios and frequently shared.

Myers (2000) writes that two conventions regarding the collage are incorrect “illustration in pulp magazines-was a false one” and “collection and curation were a species of art practice,” noting “the first two have been the governing assumptions of much art since, though they were clearly charged and polemic claims in the early 1950s” (p. 65). Instead he argues, it is “that erotics and irrationality inhabited even the most innocuous of mass-cultural representations” (p. 65) that merits further investigation.

“The collage traffics in a hokey, lowbrow polysemy-pop gun, poppa, popping cherries, soda-pop, not to mention popular. These words are made into a handful of caricatures in the collage: the bottle of Coca-Cola, the gun, the ‘rich man.’ This polysemy, nonsensical except in its repetition-pop, pop, pop-extends to a series of formal rhymes between red-brown circles: from the stained red badge of the Coca-Cola advertisement, to the Real Gold fruit juice insignia, to the bulging fetish cherry near the center of the collage, to the round curves of the woman’s posterior, breast, and thigh. Each hums with a fetishistic appeal, the appeal of the ‘idealized’ feminine form on the left, and the appeal of the constellation of commodities on the right” (Myers, 2000, p.70).

While some credit the imagery to Paolozzi’s fascination with “the glamour of American consumerism” (Tate, 2012), it should be argued that ultimately, Bunk! and its series of collages speak to viewer of Paolozzi’s understanding that his work not only found value and reflection of the current reality, but that it acted as a critique in a response to the very contemporary culture which created it. In a very literal sense, Paolozzi ensured that his art was understood as a product of his environment. To do so, Paolozzi stuck new ground in using the found objects of pop culture in collage. “The projection of a heterogeneity of messages generated from SF magazine covers, car ads, animated film clips, and military images appears to have had a bewildering impact. No one had taken mass media imagery that seriously before” (Robbins, 1990, p. 94).

Messages Image(1652606009)He also expressed a desire to exhibit these objet trouve as the artist and the viewer’s bodies, in other words, the body as commodity. No better example of this in Paolozzi’s oeuvre than Evadne in Green Dimension (1972) “explicitly stamped with ‘male’ power: its diagram of an erect phallus, superimposed with the curves of a glamour girl, graphically embodies the association between possession of goods and of women” (Spencer, 2012, p. 332). Paolozzi used the male body to criticize a mass media, dependent on “overt construction of gendered stereotypes in order to sell goods.” Spencer deftly dissects the Bunk! critique which presents the male subject – the American strong man Charles Atlas, his modesty preserved by a leopard-print loincloth – as defined in relation to objects offered up for literal and metaphoric consumption. The glistening slice of strawberry pie, the car and the glamour girl establish a set of coordinates for male identity, constituting an anthropological study of stereotypically masculine self-construction in capitalist society. At the same time, the image insinuates that the mass media can itself be navigated anthropologically, as a set of signs and symbols to be understood and arranged to achieve a specific cultural construct, predicated in this instance on the pursuit of social mobility and sexual conquest” (p. 332).

Ultimately, pop art owes its existence to this materiality, which fed the collective worldview of the IG who were “united in their conviction that multiple visual phenomena demanded the same degree of scrutiny awarded to ‘high’ art” (Spencer 2012, p. 316).


Myers, J. (2000). The future as fetish. October, 94, 63-88.

Livingstone, M., Pop Art: A Continuing History, New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1990

Paolozzi, E. (1947). I was a rich man’s plaything. Tate. Retrieved from

Paolozzi, E. (1972). Evadne in Green Dimension. Tate. Retrieved from

Robbins, D. (ed.) 1990, The Independent Group: Postwar Britain and the Aesthetics of Plenty, M.I.T Press, Cambridge, Mass.

Spencer, C. (2012).  The Independent Group’s ‘Anthropology of Ourselves’. Art history. ,  35 (2), p. 314-335.

Stonard, J. P. (2007). Pop in the Age of Boom: Richard Hamilton’s’ Just What Is It That Makes Today’s Homes so Different, so Appealing?’. The Burlington Magazine, 607-620.

Troiani, I. (2000). There’s nothing Wrong with being “Ordinary”: Beauty in the architectural campaigns of the Smithsons and Venturi, Scott Brown. In Habitus conference proceedings, Perth.