Pop art emerged in the United States in 1950s and soon afterwards this artistic movement has spread to Great Britain. The new art movement emerged from the increased fascination of the popular culture that reflected wealth of society in post-war period. The main feature of pop art was the celebration of beauty of the everyday objects such as soup cans, cosmetics, soda bottles or soap powder by turning them into symbolic icons. Pop art supported the development of many talented artists. Two of the most famous of them are Richard Hamilton and Robert Rauschenberg. Despite a lot of differences in the biographies and artistic philosophies of these artists, they created the basis for the successful development of the brightest artistic movement of the 20th century.
Richard William Hamilton was a well-known English painter who is considered to be one of the founders of the British pop art. He was born in London in 1922 and from his early teenage Hamilton began to attend evening art courses. From 1938 to 1940 he studies in Royal Academy School. He resumed to study there in 1946, but was expelled in July because he refused to follow the instructions of his tutor.
In 1963 Hamilton went to New York and this trip had a special impact on his artistic career as he began to pay attention to photography and its role in art. He began to pay special attention to digital media and their impact on fine arts in 1980s. His searching resulted in the retrospective presentation in London Tate Gallery in 1993 the artist presented Great Britain at Biennale in Venice.
However, the life of the young man has changed seriously when he discovered his gift for painting in 1947. He entered Kansas City Art Institute and the academy in Paris. In 1948 he also decided to enter Black Mountain College in South Carolina to further his knowledge of this type of art.
In the beginning of 1950s he settled in New York to increase his work in the new artistic style. He was working together with Jasper Johns and it can be said that at that period of time they founded the basis of the American pop art.
Not only personal life of painters, but also their style of art represents serious interest for research. Both of them combined different types of art on their works. Hamilton began to combine painting and photography after his trip to New York in 1963. Rauschenberg combined in his painting and sculpture that was followed by the usage of sound and silk-screens in his works in late 50s and 1960s. Both of them experimented with collages and new technologies that were able to add new colors to their works (Kimmelman 2008).
Although Hamilton is considered to be the father of pop art, he never wanted to become a founder and promoted of low-grade art. His works were different from the other representatives of this style as he was far from the idolization of the advertisements and other objects of urban culture. He has never expressed the traditional teenage dreams of that time. the serious analysis of commercial methodology and the technical tools used for the image creating were marked by the high art study of the painter. The images from the advertisements that were used in his works always came from the top end market list that demonstrated his passion to art itself, not the urbanized society.
Pop art is known to be the descendant of Dadaism and Rauscenberg is usually referred to as “ Neo Dadaist” in his usage of everyday objects from the street in his works. This is how ordinary objects were presented as an art itself, ruining the distinction between the common life objects and art objects. Rauschenberg tried to work on the line between the art and life and therefore to create something that has an attitude to both.
The real value of these painters can be demonstrated with the help of their works. The most well-known work is “ Just What Is It That Makes Today’s Homes So Different, So Appealing?” that was p[resented to the large audience in 1956 (Smith 30). Here, Hamilton used popular images in order to react on the fundamental changes of the aim of everyday life of an individual. It became a symbolic icon for that period as people began to be more and more concentrated on shopping, watching TV, driving a car and consuming multiple unnecessary goods and services.
The great power of capitalism that transformed the boundaries between the different civilizations and changed the role of successful business for the Western world is shown through the multiple good on the painting. They are the result of the uncontrolled expenditure – the typical feature of the post-war society.
The most important works of Robert Rauschenberg is “ White Paintings” it was presented to the audience in 1951 (Schimmel 77-78). This painting demonstrated the main ideas of that can be seen in his entire later artistic career. This work of art is interesting as it has five permutations of canvases that have multiple panels and have no mark of the artists’ hand that produces powerful impression. This serves as a stimulus for the viewers’ imagination and also reflects light and color of the room where the work is situated. Therefore, the composition changes and is always new for the new audience. It therefore reflects the complex character of the modern society and stimulates the emergence of the viewers’ imagination.
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Kimmelman, Michael. “ Robert Rauschenberg, American Artist, Dies at 82”. The New York Times. The New York Times Mag. 14 May 2008. Web. 17 Dec. 2014.
Schimmel, Paul. Robert Rauschenberg: Combines. NY: Penguin, 2005. Print.
Smith, Graham. “ Richard Hamilton’s “ Just What Is It That Makes Today’s Homes So Different, So Appealing?” Notes in the History of Art 9. 4 (1990): 30-34.