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Example of Pop Art: James Rosenquist (b. 1933): Just Desert, Israel, etching in colors, to be offered December 5, 2015
James Rosenquist (b. 1933): Just Desert, Israel, etching in colors, to be offered December 5, 2015

Pop, Neo-Pop and Post-Pop

1960’s Pop Art imagery is part of the lexicon of the American aesthetic, using as its subject matter images of popular culture, advertising and comic art to celebrate commonplace objects and the banality of everyday life. Pop artists worked to blur the boundaries between what is considered “high art” and “low popular culture”. The movement emerged in England in the late 1950’s and quickly spread as a reaction to Abstract Expressionism, championed by Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, Andy Warhol, Jim Dine, Richard Hamilton, Ed Ruscha and Claes Oldenburg, among others. Like all art movements, Pop has roots in earlier movements, including the use of found objects by Dada and Surrealist artists, and the popular culture subjects chosen by American painters in the 1930’s and 40’s. Not surprisingly, Pop has been reinterpreted, reimagined and copied since its introduction, and Pop imagery continues to be used in advertising, the media and by a new generation of artists who identify with the significance of pop imagery, or who choose to reimagine it anew.

Neo-Pop, or Post-Pop, is a broad term that refers to a style that has been influenced by Pop Art. The first wave of Neo-Pop Art emerged in the 1980’s as a reaction to the Minimalism and Conceptualism of the 1970’s. Jeff Koons, Damien Hirst, Keith Haring, Kenny Scharf and Takashi Murakami are artists who worked in a Neo-Pop style during this period, borrowing subjects from everyday life and elevating them to “high art”. The Neo-Pop artists used the iconography of Pop Art to their own ends, creating commentary that mimics Pop Art, but also incorporating contemporary “kitch” imagery and references to political and social issues that did not exist in the 60’s.

Neo-Pop: Alexis Smith (b. 1949): Orange Lust, screenprint to be offered December 5, 2015
Alexis Smith (b. 1949): Orange Lust, screenprint to be offered December 5, 2015

The Post-Pop movement continued into the 1990’s and 21st Century, with a younger generation of artists exploring the same ideas and visual language to reinterpret Pop art once again. Using humor and again borrowing freely from popular culture, artists such as Alexis Smith, David Lefner, Richard Duardo and Shepherd Fairey work in a Pop/Neo-Pop vernacular with references to Assemblage Art, and the work of the Dadists and Surrealists who influenced the early Pop masters. This contemporary Post-Pop movement has a strong presence in California and the influence of Hollywood and the movie/celebrity culture can be felt in their work. While mimicking Pop imagery, some of the new Post-Pop Art is actively mocking its subject matter, offering a parody or critique on our modern-day obsession with fame and consumerism.

Pop Art is considered the first Postmodern Art movement and possibly the most culturally influential art movement of the 20th Century. Its identifiable and accessible imagery has made icons of many seminal works. Other movements have grown out of Neo-Pop, such as Lowbrow, Pop-Surrealism, and Superflat, all using, interpreting and reimagining the basic tenants of the original Pop art movement.

Included in our December 5th auction, 20th Century, Modern and Contemporary Fine and Decorative Arts, are examples of Pop Art and the movements and trends that followed it, including Neo-Pop and the new Pop movement that developed in Los Angeles in the 2000’s.

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