Much of the art world has a reputation for being fancy and inaccessible. Luckily, there are other people who call for more accessibility in the arts, and there are efforts to bring the art world to a wider audience. If you want to hang art in your home that’s immediate and accessible, you should look into pop art. It takes things we already recognize and twists them into something new.
What is pop art?
One of the most famous pieces of pop art is Campbell’s Soup Cans. To complete the project, artist Andy Warhol brought home multiple cans of Campbell’s soup from his local grocery store, one in every available flavor. Critics didn’t respond kindly to Warhol’s efforts when he released the canvases in 1962. But the art world came around, and the pieces were eventually proclaimed masterpieces. In the 1990s, New York’s Museum of Modern Art purchased the collection for $15 million. Warhol wasn’t around to see this, as he died in 1987, but the soup cans both launched his career as a pop artist and eventually cemented his legacy as an icon.
Campbell’s Soup Cans worked so well in part because those aluminum cans are instantly recognizable. Anyone who ever browsed the soup aisle knows what they look like. But they’re not just photos of cans on a grocery store shelf — art critics decided the cans must be satirizing some element of American life before they came around. What element is being satirized? That’s up for debate, but pop art often works better when there’s an element of irony or parody involved.
How we use pop art today
Pop art is often associated with the bright colors and ink style that you see in comic books. Since we’re living in an era of endless photo filters, you can even take a photo of yourself and turn it into a pop art canvas to hang in your living room or bedroom. If you ever wondered how you would look like a character in a comic book, then now’s your chance. Among other things, turning yourself into pop art lets you pretend you exist in the Marvel universe, minus all those worries about Thanos destroying the universe.
Pop art should be fun and irreverent. If you like a piece of pop art, you shouldn’t have to write a ten page essay explaining why. Hanging pop art in your house is another way of incorporating pop culture into your everyday life. We already answer trivia questions about TV shows and movies at bars to win money (or bar food). When a friend is confused, we tease them by reciting pop culture quotes like “These aren’t the droids you’re looking for.” That’s already an iconic line from Star Wars, and people make it more iconic every time they repeat it.
Some people debate pop art that uses corporate logos and ads. For instance, in Andy Warhol’s day, people might have said, “Why are you giving that soup company free publicity?” Some of that might stem from living in a culture that’s already awash in advertising, which is understandable. But another part of it is art elitism rearing its ugly head again. Advertising is often seen as inferior compared to some kind of mythically pure art that mostly exists in someone’s head. Pop art is related to found object art, and that’s been around for centuries. A piece doesn’t have to exist on a canvas or other traditional medium for it to contain artistic elements. People can and have made art from the litter they picked up on the street.