History of Pop Art Sculpture
Pop art developed in Great Britain and the United States in the early 1950s as a response to mass media and popular commercial imagery. A collection of artists in London who called themselves the Independent Group met to discuss the role of mass culture, found objects, science, and technology in the world of fine art. They defined pop art as cheap, mass produced, and witty works for a large audience. Across the pond in New York City, artists faced the decision to either follow in the footsteps of the abstract expressionists or to forge a new path. Many of these artists chose to rebel against the painterly tradition, inciting a proto-pop/neo-Dada movement concerned with found objects and assemblage techniques. These works led into the colorful 1960s Pop tradition concerned with everyday people and objects, ranging from movie stars and comic books to advertising. Many Pop artists created sculptures of these common items, utilizing untraditional, lowbrow mediums like plastic, vinyl, and stuffing. These sculptors believed art could be created from all kinds of materials, not just what the high art world deemed acceptable. In later decades, a neopop revival movement led to the production of large-scale pop art sculptures for use in public spaces.
Pop Art Sculpture Techniques
Artists who were a part of the transition into Pop art created sculptures out of readymade materials. Several scoured junkyards and fashioned assemblages from the objects they found. Many pop artists, including Andy Warhol, had early careers in commercial art and graphic design and transferred these skills into their creative processes, often relying on mechanical means of reproduction. Warhol, for example, silkscreened labels onto wooden boxes to create his sculptures of Campbell’s soup boxes. Pop art sculptors were also concerned with broadening the selection of acceptable materials. Many experimented with unconventional sculptural mediums such as fabric and stuffing, plaster bandages, and a variety of plastics (fiberglass, vinyl, etc.). Pop art sculpture also shifted the subject of art from traditional genres to the everyday, depicting common people and store-bought objects. Jasper Johns, for example, cast traditional bronze sculptures of beer cans in his “Painted Bronze (Ale Cans)” (1964).
Artists Known For Pop Art Sculpture
Proto-pop artists Robert Rauschenberg, Bruce Conner, and Edward Kienholz are known for their “junk art” assemblage sculptures pieced together from found objects. Claes Oldenburg is perhaps the most famous pop art sculptor and is known for works like “Two Cheeseburgers, with Everything (Dual Hamburgers)” (1962) and “Soft Fur Good Humors” (1963). Oldenburg played with scale and texture, creating monumental stuffed fabric sculptures of everyday objects ranging from cigarettes to potatoes. Duane Hanson used fiberglass and vinyl to create satirical sculptures of everyday people in his works “Supermarket Shopper” and “Tourists” (both 1970), while George Segal was the first to use plaster bandages as a sculptural medium in pieces like “The Laundromat” (1966-67). Andy Warhol used silk screening methods to produce sculptures of the now iconic Brillo and Campbell’s soup boxes. In the decades following the 1960s, pop artists like Roy Lichtenstein were commissioned to create large-scale unique art sculptures for public spaces. This neopop revival also led to newer artists, most notably Jeff Koons, experimenting with the style. Other artists associated with the Pop art sculpture movement include Jasper Johns, Coosje van Bruggen, Marisol Escobar, Paul Van Hoeydonck, Eduardo Paolozzi, Alex Katz, and Allen Jones.