Pop Art emerged in both the United States and the United Kingdom around halfway through the 20th century. The first image to bear the name “Pop” was created in the year 1947 and the movement quickly spread following its first exhibition in the early 1950s.
The artists of this movement aim to integrate elements from popular culture into their artworks, often completely taken out of their original context. These elements come from advertising, comic books, and even the most mundane objects of pop culture.
Pop Art is considered to be a reaction against everything considered to be “fine art” and the personal nature of works produced by the Abstract Expressionist artists in the post-WWII era.
One of the most prominent features used by Pop Art artists is the logos of multinational corporations. Coca-Cola bottles and Campbell’s Soup Cans are just a few of the things used in the most famous Pop Art artworks.
Who are the most famous Pop Art artists in history? Let’s take a closer look!
1. Andy Warhol
Andrew Warhola Jr. (1928-1987), better known as “Andy Warhol,” is considered to be one of the leading figures of the Pop Art art movement in the United States. His works revolved around celebrity and mass advertising culture and attempted to reconcile these elements with the world of art.
The result was some of the most iconic Pop Art artworks such as his silkscreen paintings called “Campbell’s Soup Cans” (1962) and “Marilyn Diptych” (1962). He has a museum dedicated to his works called the “Andy Warhol Museum” in his hometown of Pittsburg and multiple exhibitions are still held displaying his remarkable works of art.
2. David Hockney
David Hockney (born 1937) is not only considered to be one of the leading figures in the development of the Pop Art movement in the 1960s but he’s also considered to be one of the most influential British artists of the 20th century. He’s a renowned painter, draftsman, printmaker, stage designer, and photographer.
He has been living in the United States, more specifically Santa Monica in California, since the year 1964, and has created some of the most famous paintings in the world. One of his works called “Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures)” sold for an astounding $90 million in 2018, an amount that made it the most expensive work of art sold by a living artist.
3. Roy Lichtenstein
Roy Fox Lichtenstein (1923-1997) was a leading figure of the Pop Art movement during the 1960s. His works mainly focused on parody inspired by a sequence of drawings referred to as the “comic strip.” This means that his works were inspired by both the advertising world and comic books.
His most famous works are considered to be “Whaam!” (1963) and “Drowning Girl” (1963). Just like his colleague David Hockney, some of his works have sold for huge amounts, including a work called “Masterpiece” (1962) that was auctioned for an incredible figure of $165 million in January 2017.
4. Eduardo Paolozzi
Eduardo Paolozzi (1924-2005) was a Scottish artist who created the first work of art that can be described as Pop Art artworks. He created “I was a Rich Man’s Plaything” in the year 1947, the first work that featured the word “Pop.”
This means that he can be considered to be one of the pioneers of Pop Art and one of the most famous Pop Art artists in history. He didn’t exhibit this work until 1952 in London after which the movement was established in the United Kingdom. Paolozzi was not only a renowned painter but a sculptor as well and many of his sculptures can be found in public spaces all across the UK.
5. Keith Haring
Keith Haring (1958-1990) wasn’t even born when the Pop Art movement first emerged in the United States and the UK, but he is still considered to be one of the most famous Pop Art artists. That’s mainly because he focused on expressing his art in the graffiti subculture in New York City during the 1980s.
He became extremely popular in the city after creating easily recognizable drawings in the New York City subway system. He also used his art to spread awareness about safe sex and AIDS/HIV, an illness that caused his early death in the year 1990. Following his initial success, he was invited to paint large-scale murals for public institutions such as hospitals and schools.
6. Richard Hamilton
Richard William Hamilton (1922-2011) was another pioneer of the Pop Art movement in the United Kingdom who created some of the most iconic Pop Art artworks. These include “exhibition Man, Machine and Motion” (1955) and a collage called “Just what is it that makes today’s homes so different, so appealing?” (1956).
These works produced in the 1950s are considered to be some of the earlier works of the Pop Art movement in the United Kingdom after it had been defined as such. His reputation gradually grew and he became friends with some of the biggest pop stars in history, including Paul McCartney of the Beatles. This resulted in Richard Hamilton producing the cover for the Beatles’ “White Album” in 1968.