Sims Reed Gallery
Pop Art in Print
Pop Art in Print
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Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Gerald Laing, Richard Hamilton
Sims Reed Gallery presents a collection of iconic works which epitomise Pop in the US and UK. Coined by Richard Hamilton, this movement has transcended over continents, emerging in the 1950s and drawing inspiration from popular and commercial culture.
'Fashion-Plate' exemplifies Hamilton’s practice of placing together found imagery from advertising and in a similar vein, his British contemporary Gerald Laing was inspired by pop culture, capturing the energy of the Swinging Sixties. Roy Lichtenstein's fascination with comic books and the fragmented distortions of light culminated in his infamous Reflections series.
The instantly recognisable 'Moonwalk' hones in on a key moment in history and Andy Warhol’s profound effect on American visual culture. His 1986 series 'Cowboys and Indians' depicted heroes such as President Roosevelt and totemic images linked with Native American culture. Warhol thought deeply about the nature of cultural legacy, predicting the ever-evolving 21st century media landscape, stating: “In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes.” From commercial advertising to mundane household products and press photographs of the rich and famous, Warhol, similarly to Hamilton, trapped his subjects in time. Mick Jagger and Muhammad Ali fascinated Warhol and his notion of celebrity.
Image: Andy Warhol, Moonwalk, Screenprint in colours, 1987
Andy Warhol was the son of immigrants who became an American icon and hub of New York’s social scene. An artist who embraced consumerism, celebrity and counter culture - and changed modern art in the process. He was born in 1928 as Andrew Warhola to working-class parents from present day Slovakia. In 1949 he moved from Pittsburgh to New York. Initially working as a commercial illustrator, his skill at transforming the imagery of American culture soon found its realisation in his ground-breaking pop art. Popularly radical and radically popular, Warhol was an artist who reimagined what art could be in an age of immense social, political and technological change.
-Tate Modern, on Andy Warhol
Andy Warhol was one of the leading pioneers of Pop Art, if not the best-known Pop artist, whose distinctive style is immediately recognisable and whose prolific collection of works have become some of the most familiar examples of Pop Art. Born in Pittsburgh, he studied pictorial design at the Carnegie Institute of Technology before moving to New York in 1949. In 1962 Warhol first started to develop photographic screenprinting, which enabled him to combine images from popular culture with the printing processes of the modern commercial world as well as to reproduce identical images very quickly with uniformity.
Richard Hamilton was an instrumental figure in the development of British Pop Art. His works were deeply inspired by everyday life and popular culture and engaged with politics and an interest in architecture or interior scenes. Born in London, he studied at the Royal Academy School and worked in advertising before exploring industrial design. Hamilton soon defined Pop Art in 1957 as “Popular (designed for a mass audience), Transient (short‑term solution), Expendable (easily forgotten), Low cost, Mass produced, Young (aimed at youth), Witty, Sexy, Gimmicky, Glamorous and Big business”. From 1963, after visiting New York, Hamilton began to experiment by fusing painting with photography in his works. From the 1980s Hamilton started to combine digital media and computer-generated works in his art.
Roy Lichtenstein was a pivotal American Pop Artist best known for his paintings, lithographs and sculptures. Lichtenstein’s early works during the 1960s were comments on American Abstract Expressionist paintings by artists such as Jackson Pollock but it was his later brightly coloured prints inspired by popular cartoon imagery which became characteristic of his oeuvre. Rather than drawing attention to the process of creating Abstract Expressionist works through impasto paint and visible brush marks, Lichtenstein imitated the effects of mechanical printing through a stencil process, thick black outlining and his striking hand-painted Benday dots. In the 1960s Lichtenstein also created many works of dramatic scenes inspired from film and comic books. screenprints were an important part of his oeuvre as alongside artists such as Andy Warhol, they were part of the attempt by artists and publishers to provide art for a mass audience through the production of prints in large editions.
Gerald Laing was a prominent British Pop Artist, born in Newcastle-upon-Tyne and who studied at St Martin’s School of Art. Characteristic of Pop Artist, Laing was deeply inspired by images from popular culture, mass produced media and advertisements and like Andy Warhol, Laing began experimenting with screen-printing during the 1960s. From 1964 – 1969 he lived in New York where he exhibited and was further inspired by the Pop scene emerging and Laing printed many of these works on his own press which he built in his loft in the Bowery, New York. His earlier works often feature women in bikinis in provocative poses capturing the energy of the 1960s or famous models or movie stars such as Bridget Bardot. He often appropriated images from newspapers or magazines, simplifying them, adding black dots (as a parody of cheap printing methods) and articulated them with bold flat plains of saturated colour. Laing then turned to imagery of skydivers and astronauts as the subjects of his prints.