Pop Art

This civilisation landmark provides a general overview of Pop art, an art movement that emerged in the United Kingdom and the United States during the mid- to late-1950s.

Macintosh Campbell's tomato can Pepsi cap

Andy Warhol's designs.

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Andy Warhol

Andy Warhol (1928-1987),
American artist, film director, and producer was a leading figure in the visual art movement known as Pop Art.

Anti-Vietnam march



The 1960s were a period of intense political and social turmoil in the US: John Kennedy was assassinated in 1963, there was racial unrest in many American cities (for example the 1967 Newark riots), the Civil Rights Act was passed in 1964, the peace movement grew stronger as the Vietnam War escalated, and consumerism exploded. It is in this context that Pop Art developed.

Anti-Vietnam march

Anti-Vietnam march. Image from

Newark riots in 1967

Newark racial riots in 1967. The New York Times.

Kennedy assassination in Dallas (1963)

Barry Maguire - Eve of Destruction (1965). See the lyrics here.



1. When was Pop Art born?

2. Where was Kennedy assassinated?

3. Where did the most important racial riots take place?

4. What important law was passed in 1964?

Muhammad Ali

Muhammad Ali, one of the greatest boxers ever, on the Vietnam war:
"My conscience won't let me go shoot my brother, or some darker people, or some poor hungry people in the mud for big powerful America. And shoot them for what? They never called me nigger, they never lynched me, they didn't put no dogs on me, they didn't rob me of my nationality, rape and kill my mother and father.
Shoot them for what? How can I shoot them poor people? Just take me to jail."



In the US, Pop Art started in the late 1950s but really rose to prominence in the 1960s. Pop Art was based on the rejection of traditional art and the appropriation of images from popular and mass culture (common household items, advertisements, mass media, cartoons...). It was also characterized by an impersonal style and the use of mass production techniques, which de-emphasized the idea of originality or of the individuality of the artist. Pop artists used bright colors and their works often combined humour, criticism and irony.

Two major pop artists

Andrew Warhola (1928-1987), better known as Andy Warhol, is perhaps the most famous figure in pop art. He started as a commercial illustrator, but later became known for his work as a painter. He was also an avant-garde filmmaker, a record producer and an author. In his works, he often borrowed images from television, advertising and other mass media, and he was fascinated by images of celebrities and brand name products. Warhol not only used images of mass produced objects in his work, he also used silkscreen printing (serigraphy), which allowed him to mass produce the art itself. In 1968, Warhol predicted that “In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes”.

Marilyn Monroe

Marilyn Monroe, by Andy Warhol


5. What did Pop Art reject?

6. What kind of images did it show?

7. What type of colours did pop artists use?

8. What sort of style characterizes pop art?

9. What techniques were used?

10. What did pop art works combine, aside from colors?

11. Who are the two most famous pop artists?

12. Mention the elements used by Andy Warhol in his works.

13. What was he fascinated by? (Two answers)

14. How did he manage to mass produce art?

15. What did he predict?


Roy Lichtenstein

Roy Lichtenstein.

Roy Lichtenstein (1923-1997), another major figure of pop art, is most famous for the work he created by taking comic-strip images and reinventing them as large paintings, although the comic book artists who drew the original pictures Lichtenstein used for inspiration were rarely credited. Some people have criticized his work for lacking originality and for perpetuating the idea that comic books are not true art.

The melody haunts my reverie

The Melody Haunts my Reverie screenprint.

16. What is the main characteristic of Lichtenstein's art?

17. Did he pay credit to original authors?

18. Why has he been criticized? (Two reasons)

Sweet Dreams Baby

Sweet Dreams, Baby.

The Living Room

The Living Room.


1. It emerged in the 1950s and consolidated in the 1960s.
2. Kennedy was shot dead in Dallas (Texas).
3. In Newark (New Jersey).
4. The Civil Rights Act.
5. Traditional art.
6. Images from popular and mass culture.7. Bright colors.
8. Impersonal.
9. Serigraphy (mass production).

10. Humor, criticism and irony.
11. Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein.
12. Images from television, advertising and other mass media.
13. Celebrities and brand name products.
14. He used silkscreen printing (serigraphy).
15. Warhol predicted that in the future, everyone would be world-famous for fifteen minutes.

16. He took comic-strip images and reinvented them as large paintings.
17. No.
18. Lack of originality and contributing to the idea that comic books are not true art.


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