Ten famous pop art artists

Saturday, August 18, 2012 · Posted in

The pop art movement that began in the 1950s was governed by the creative thinking of many pop art artists. Together forming the Independent Group, these artists went against the high brow culture of art to make it more accessible to the masses. In this article, we introduce to the ten most famous names in the world of pop-art. While there have been many artists who have added impetus to the movement, time after time, these names are important for they introduced fresh styles and increased the reach and acceptance levels of this art form.

Andy Warhol

Andy Warhol (August 6, 1928 – February 22, 1987) was an American artist who was a leading figure in the visual art movement known as pop art. His works explore the relationship between artistic expression, celebrity culture and advertisement that flourished by the 1960s. After a successful career as a commercial illustrator, Warhol became a renowned and sometimes controversial artist. The Andy Warhol Museum in his native city, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, holds an extensive permanent collection of art and archives. It is the largest museum in the United States of America dedicated to a single artist.




Andy Warhol (né Andrej Varchola, Jr.) was born on August 6, 1928 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He was the fourth child of Ondrej Varchola (1889-1942)(americanized as Andrew Warhola,Sr.) and Júlia (née Zavacká, 1892–1972),[4] whose first child was born in their homeland and died before their move to the U.S. Andy had two older brothers Paul, born about 1923 and John born about 1925.

His parents were working-class Rusyn emigrants from Mikó (now called Miková), located in today’s northeastern Slovakia, part of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire. Warhol's father immigrated to the US in 1914, and his mother joined him in 1921, after the death of Warhol's grandparents. Warhol's father worked in a coal mine. The family lived at 55 Beelen Street and later at 3252 Dawson Street in the Oakland neighborhood of Pittsburgh. The family was Byzantine Catholic and attended St. John Chrysostom Byzantine Catholic Church. Andy Warhol had two older brothers – Pavol (Paul), the oldest, was born in Slovakia; Ján was born in Pittsburgh. Pavol's son, James Warhola, became a successful children's book illustrator. About 1939, he starts collecting autographed cards of film stars.

In third grade, Warhol had chorea, the nervous system disease that causes involuntary movements of the extremities, which is believed to be a complication of scarlet fever and causes skin pigmentation blotchiness. He became a hypochondriac, developing a fear of hospitals and doctors. Often bedridden as a child, he became an outcast at school and bonded with his mother. At times when he was confined to bed, he drew, listened to the radio and collected pictures of movie stars around his bed. Warhol later described this period as very important in the development of his personality, skill-set and preferences. When Warhol was 13, his father died in an accident.

As a teenager, Warhol graduated from Schenley High School in the year 1945. Though not medically diagnosed, Andy had dyslexia, which contributed to broadening his imagination for art. He perceived the world differently from other artists, who did not have this disorder, which was somewhat of a underlying gift. After graduating from high school, his intentions were to study art education at the University of Pittsburgh in hopes of becoming an art teacher, but his plans changed to enrolling in the Carnegie Institute of Technology to pursue an art career as a commercial illustrator. In 1949, he earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design.

By the beginning of the 1960s, Warhol had become a very successful commercial illustrator. His detailed and elegant drawings for I. Miller shoes were particularly popular. They consisted mainly of "blotted ink" drawings (or monoprints), a technique which he applied in much of his early art. Although many artists of this period worked in commercial art, most did so discreetly. Warhol was so successful, however, that his profile as an illustrator seemed to undermine his efforts to be taken seriously as an artist.

Pop art was an experimental form that several artists were independently adopting; some of these pioneers, such as Roy Lichtenstein, would later become synonymous with the movement. Warhol, who would become famous as the "Pope of Pop", turned to this new style, where popular subjects could be part of the artist's palette. His early paintings show images taken from cartoons and advertisements, hand-painted with paint drips. Those drips emulated the style of successful abstract expressionists (such as Willem de Kooning). Warhol's first pop art paintings were displayed in April 1961, serving as the backdrop for New York Department Store Bronwit Teller's window display. This was the same stage his Pop Art contemporaries Jasper Johns, James Rosenquist and Robert Rauschenberg had also once graced. Eventually, Warhol pared his image vocabulary down to the icon itself – to brand names, celebrities, dollar signs – and removed all traces of the artist's "hand" in the production of his paintings.

To him, part of defining a niche was defining his subject matter. Cartoons were already being used by Lichtenstein, typography by Jasper Johns, and so on; Warhol wanted a distinguishing subject. His friends suggested he should paint the things he loved the most. It was the gallerist Muriel Latow who came up with the ideas for both the soup cans and Warhol's dollar paintings. On November 23, 1961 Warhol wrote Latow a check for $50 which, according to the 2009 Warhol biography, Pop, The Genius of Warhol, was payment for coming up with the idea of the soup cans as subject matter. For his first major exhibition Warhol painted his famous cans of Campbell's Soup, which he claimed to have had for lunch for most of his life. The work sold for $10,000 at an auction on November 17, 1971, at Sotheby's New York – a minimal amount for the artist whose paintings sell for over $6 million more recently.

He loved celebrities, so he painted them as well. From these beginnings he developed his later style and subjects. Instead of working on a signature subject matter, as he started out to do, he worked more and more on a signature style, slowly eliminating the hand-made from the artistic process. Warhol frequently used silk-screening; his later drawings were traced from slide projections. At the height of his fame as a painter, Warhol had several assistants who produced his silk-screen multiples, following his directions to make different versions and variations.

In 1979, Warhol was commissioned by BMW to paint a Group 4 race version of the then elite supercar BMW M1 for the fourth installment in the BMW Art Car Project. Unlike the three artists before him, Warhol declined the use of a small scale practice model, instead opting to immediately paint directly onto the full scale automobile. It was indicated that Warhol spent only a total of 23 minutes to paint the entire car. Warhol produced both comic and serious works; his subject could be a soup can or an electric chair. Warhol used the same techniques– silkscreens, reproduced serially, and often painted with bright colors – whether he painted celebrities, everyday objects, or images of suicide, car crashes, and disasters, as in the 1962–63 Death and Disaster series. The Death and Disaster paintings included Red Car Crash, Purple Jumping Man, and Orange Disaster.

The unifying element in Warhol's work is his deadpan Keatonesque style – artistically and personally affectless. This was mirrored by Warhol's own demeanor, as he often played "dumb" to the media, and refused to explain his work. The artist was famous for having said that all you need to know about him and his works is already there, "Just look at the surface of my paintings and films and me, and there I am. There's nothing behind it."

His Rorschach inkblots are intended as pop comments on art and what art could be. His cow wallpaper (literally, wallpaper with a cow motif) and his oxidation paintings (canvases prepared with copper paint that was then oxidized with urine) are also noteworthy in this context. Equally noteworthy is the way these works – and their means of production – mirrored the atmosphere at Andy's New York "Factory". Biographer Bob Colacello provides some details on Andy's "piss paintings":
Victor... was Andy's ghost pisser on the Oxidations. He would come to the Factory to urinate on canvases that had already been primed with copper-based paint by Andy or Ronnie Cutrone, a second ghost pisser much appreciated by Andy, who said that the vitamin B that Ronnie took made a prettier color when the acid in the urine turned the copper green. Did Andy ever use his own urine? My diary shows that when he first began the series, in December 1977, he did, and there were many others: boys who'd come to lunch and drink too much wine, and find it funny or even flattering to be asked to help Andy 'paint.' Andy always had a little extra bounce in his walk as he led them to his studio.

Warhol's first portrait of Basquiat (1982) is a black photosilkscreen over an oxidized copper "piss painting".

After many years of silkscreen, oxidation, photography, etc., Warhol returned to painting with a brush in hand in a series of over 50 large collaborative works done with Jean-Michel Basquiat between 1984 and 1986. Despite negative criticism when these were first shown, Warhol called some of them "masterpieces," and they were influential for his later work.

The influence of the large collaborations with Basquiat can be seen in Warhol's The Last Supper cycle, his last and possibly his largest series, seen by some as "arguably his greatest," but by others as “wishy-washy, religiose” and “spiritless." It is also the largest series of religious-themed works by any U.S. artist.

At the time of his death, Warhol was working on Cars, a series of paintings for Mercedes-Benz.

A self-portrait by Andy Warhol (1963–64), which sold in New York at the May Post-War and Contemporary evening sale in Christie's, fetched $38.4 million.

On May 9, 2012, his classic painting "Double Elvis (Ferus Type)" sold at auction at Sotheby's in New York for US$33 million dollars. With commission, the sale price totaled US$37,042,500, short of the $50 million that Sotheby's had predicted the painting might bring. The piece (silkscreen ink and spray paint on canvas) shows Elvis Presley in a gunslinger pose. It was first exhibited in 1963 at the Ferus Gallery in Los Angeles. Warhol made 22 versions of the "Double Elvis," nine of which are held in museums.

Warhol died in New York City at 6:32 a.m. on February 22, 1987. According to news reports, he had been making good recovery from a routine gallbladder surgery at New York Hospital before dying in his sleep from a sudden post-operative cardiac arrhythmia. Prior to his diagnosis and operation, Warhol delayed having his recurring gallbladder problems checked, as he was afraid to enter hospitals and see doctors. His family sued the hospital for inadequate care, saying that the arrhythmia was caused by improper care and water intoxication.

Warhol's body was taken back to Pittsburgh by his brothers for burial. The wake was at Thomas P. Kunsak Funeral Home and was an open-coffin ceremony. The coffin was a solid bronze casket with gold plated rails and white upholstery. Warhol was dressed in a black cashmere suit, a paisley tie, a platinum wig, and sunglasses. He was posed holding a small prayer book and a red rose. The funeral liturgy was held at the Holy Ghost Byzantine Catholic Church on Pittsburgh's North Side. The eulogy was given by Monsignor Peter Tay. Yoko Ono, John Richardson, and Nicholas Love were speakers. The coffin was covered with white roses and asparagus ferns. After the liturgy, the coffin was driven to St. John the Baptist Byzantine Catholic Cemetery in Bethel Park, a south suburb of Pittsburgh.

At the grave, the priest said a brief prayer and sprinkled holy water on the casket. Before the coffin was lowered, Paige Powell dropped a copy of Interview magazine, an Interview t-shirt, and a bottle of the Estee Lauder perfume "Beautiful" into the grave. Warhol was buried next to his mother and father. A memorial service was held in Manhattan for Warhol on April 1, 1987, at St. Patrick's Cathedral, New York.

Warhol's will dictated that his entire estate – with the exception of a few modest legacies to family members – would go to create a foundation dedicated to the "advancement of the visual arts". Warhol had so many possessions that it took Sotheby's nine days to auction his estate after his death; the auction grossed more than US$20 million.

In 1987, in accordance with Warhol's will, the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts began. The Foundation serves as the official Estate of Andy Warhol, but also has a mission "to foster innovative artistic expression and the creative process" and is "focused primarily on supporting work of a challenging and often experimental nature."

The Artists Rights Society is the U.S. copyright representative for the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts for all Warhol works with the exception of Warhol film stills. The U.S. copyright representative for Warhol film stills is the Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh. Additionally, the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts has agreements in place for its image archive. All digital images of Warhol are exclusively managed by Corbis, while all transparency images of Warhol are managed by Art Resource.

The Andy Warhol Foundation released its 20th Anniversary Annual Report as a three-volume set in 2007: Vol. I, 1987–2007; Vol. II, Grants & Exhibitions; and Vol. III, Legacy Program. The Foundation remains one of the largest grant-giving organizations for the visual arts in the U.S.

Roy Lichtenstein

Roy Lichtenstein (October 27, 1923 – September 29, 1997) was a prominent American pop artist. During the 1960s, his paintings were exhibited at the Leo Castelli Gallery in New York City and along with Andy Warhol, Jasper Johns, James Rosenquist and others he became a leading figure in the new art movement. His work defined the basic premise of pop art better than any other through parody.  Favoring the old-fashioned comic strip as subject matter, Lichtenstein produced hard-edged, precise compositions that documented while it parodied often in a tongue-in-cheek humorous manner. His work was heavily influenced by both popular advertising and the comic book style. He described Pop Art as, "not 'American' painting but actually industrial painting".


Roy Lichtenstein was born in New York into an upper-middle-class Jewish New York City family and attended public school until the age of 12. He then enrolled at New York's Franklin School for Boys, remaining there for his secondary education. Lichtenstein first became interested in art and design as a hobby, and through school. He was an avid jazz fan, often attending concerts at the Apollo Theater in Harlem. He frequently drew portraits of the musicians playing their instruments. After graduation from Franklin, Lichtenstein enrolled in summer classes at the Art Students League of New York, where he worked under the tutelage of Reginald Marsh.

Lichtenstein then left New York to study at the Ohio State University, which offered studio courses and a degree in fine arts. His studies were interrupted by a three-year stint in the army during and after World War II between 1943 and 1946. After being in training programs for languages, engineering, and pilot training; all of which were cancelled, he served as an orderly, draftsman, and artist. Lichtenstein returned home to visit his dying father and was discharged from the army with eligibility for the G.I. Bill. He returned to studies in Ohio under the supervision of one of his teachers, Hoyt L. Sherman, who is widely regarded to have had a significant impact on his future work (Lichtenstein would later name a new studio he funded at OSU as the Hoyt L. Sherman Studio Art Center). Lichtenstein entered the graduate program at Ohio State and was hired as an art instructor, a post he held on and off for the next ten years. In 1949 Lichtenstein received a M.F.A. degree from the Ohio State University and in the same year married Isabel Wilson who was previously married to Ohio artist Michael Sarisky (Isabel divorced Roy Lichtenstein in 1965). In 1951 Lichtenstein had his first one-man exhibition at the Carlebach Gallery in New York.

He moved to Cleveland in the same year, where he remained for six years, although he frequently traveled back to New York. During this time he undertook jobs as varied as a draftsman to a window decorator in between periods of painting. His work at this time fluctuated between Cubism and Expressionism. In 1954, his first son, David Hoyt Lichtenstein, now a songwriter, was born. He then had his second son, Mitchell Lichtenstein in 1956. In 1957, he moved back to upstate New York and began teaching again. It was at this time that he adopted the Abstract Expressionism style, a late convert to this style of painting. From 1970 until his death, Lichtenstein split his time between New York city and a house near the beach in Southampton.

In 1967, Lichtenstein's first museum retrospective exhibition was held at the Pasadena Art Museum in California. Also in this year, his first solo exhibition in Europe was held at museums in Amsterdam, London, Bern and Hannover. He married his second wife, Dorothy Herzka in 1968. Lichtenstein had his first retrospective at the Guggenheim Museum in 1969, organized by Diane Waldman. The Guggenheim presented a second Lichtenstein retrospective in 1994. Lichtenstein became the first living artist to have a solo drawing exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art from March – June 1987. Recent retrospective surveys include "All About Art," Louisiana Museum, Humelbaek (2003, traveled to the Hayward Gallery, London, Museo Reina Sofia, Madrid, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art through 2005); and "Classic of the New", Kunsthaus Bregenz (2005), "Roy Lichtenstein: Meditations on Art" Museo Triennale, Milan (2010, traveled to the Museum Ludwig, Cologne). In late 2010 The Morgan Library & Museum showed Roy Lichtenstein: The Black-and-White Drawings, 1961-1968. Another major retrospective will open at the Art Institute of Chicago in May 2012 before going to the National Gallery of Art in Washington, Tate Modern in London, and the Centre Pompidou in Paris in 2013.

Blek le Rat

Blek le Rat, born Xavier Prou in Boulogne-Billancourt, Paris in 1952, was one of the first graffiti artists in Paris, and has been described as the “Father of Stencil Graffiti” .


He began his artwork in 1981, painting stencils of rats on the street walls of Paris, describing the rat as "the only free animal in the city", and one which "spreads the plague everywhere, just like street art". His name originates from a childhood cartoon "Blek le Roc", using "rat" as an anagram for "art".

Initially influenced by the early graffiti art of New York City after a visit in 1971, he chose a style which he felt better suited Paris, due to the differing architecture of the two cities. He also stated the influence of British artist Richard Hamilton, who painted large-scale human figures in the 1980s. He is credited with being the inventor of the life-sized stencil, as well as the first to transform stencil from basic lettering into pictoral art.

Blek's identity was revealed to French authorities in 1991 when he was arrested while stencilling a replica of Caravaggio's Madonna and Child, with the connection to Blek and his artwork being made by police. From that point on, he has worked exclusively with pre-stenciled posters, citing the speedier application of the medium to walls, as well as lessened punishment should he be caught in the act.

He has had a great influence on today's graffiti art and "guerilla art" movements, the main motivation of his work being social consciousness and the desire to bring art to the people. Many of his pieces are pictorials of solitary individuals in opposition to larger, oppressive groups. He has also been noted for his series of images representing the homeless, begun in 2006, which depict them standing, sitting or laying on sidewalks, in attempts to bring attention to what he views as a global problem.

British graffiti artist Banksy has acknowledged Blek's influence stating "every time I think I've painted something slightly original, I find out that Blek Le Rat has done it as well, only twenty years earlier."  The two have expressed mutual desire for collaboration; in 2011, Blek was seen adding to a mural begun the previous year by Banksy in the Mission District, San Francisco.

Blek initially disagreed with those who claim Banksy has copied his work: "People say he copies me, but I don’t think so. I’m the old man, he’s the new kid, and if I’m an inspiration to an artist that good, I love it. I feel what he is doing in London is similar to the rock movement in the Sixties." However, more recently in the documentary Graffiti Wars, Blek took a different tone, stating "When I see Banksy making a man with a child or Banksy making rats, of course I see immediately where he takes the idea. I do feel angry. When you’re an artist you use your own techniques. It’s difficult to find a technique and style in art so when you have a style and you see someone else is taking it and reproducing it, you don’t like that. I’m not sure about his integrity. Maybe he has to show his face now and show what kind of guy he is."

In October 2006, Blek le Rat had his first solo U.K. exhibition in London at the Leonard Street Gallery. He participated in the Cans Festival in 2008, which featured outdoor street stencil painting in Waterloo, London by many of street art's biggest names.

His American gallery debut took place at Subliminal Projects Gallery in Los Angeles in 2008. It included paintings, silkscreen and three-dimensional artwork, as well as photography from his wife, Sybille Prou.

Blek also had an exhibition in December 2009 at the Metro Gallery in Melbourne, a centre of street art in Australia. The exhibition entitled "Le Ciel Est Bleu, La Vie Est Belle" (The sky is blue, life is beautiful), featured wooden panels, canvas, screen-print and photographs, tracing the artist's oeuvre from the early 1980s to the present.

Blek le Rat has nonetheless expressed preference for the streets over galleries, stating the integrity of an artist is to be seen by as many people as possible, not being sold or recognized in a museum.

Banksy

Banksy is a pseudonymous England-based graffiti artist, political activist, film director, and painter.

His satirical street art and subversive epigrams combine irreverent dark humour with graffiti done in a distinctive stencilling technique. Such artistic works of political and social commentary have been featured on streets, walls, and bridges of cities throughout the world.

Banksy's work was born of the Bristol underground scene which involved collaborations between artists and musicians. According to author and graphic designer Tristan Manco and the book Home Sweet Home, Banksy "was born in 1974 and raised in Bristol, England. The son of a photocopier technician, he trained as a butcher but became involved in graffiti during the great Bristol aerosol boom of the late 1980s." Observers have noted that his style is similar to Blek le Rat, who began to work with stencils in 1981 in Paris, and members of the anarcho-punk band Crass, which maintained a graffiti stencil campaign on the London Tube System in the late 1970s and early 1980s. However Banksy himself stated on his website that in all actuality he based his work on that of 3D from Massive Attack, stating, "No, I copied 3D from Massive Attack. He can actually draw."

Known for his contempt for the government in labelling graffiti as vandalism, Banksy displays his art on public surfaces such as walls and even going as far as to build physical prop pieces. Banksy does not sell photos of street graffiti directly himself; however, art auctioneers have been known to attempt to sell his street art on location and leave the problem of its removal in the hands of the winning bidder. Banksy's first film, Exit Through the Gift Shop, billed as "the world's first street art disaster movie," made its debut at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival. The film was released in the UK on 5 March 2010. In January 2011, he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Documentary for the film.

Banksy began as a freehand graffiti artist 1990–1994 as one of Bristol's DryBreadZ Crew (DBZ), with Kato and Tes. He was inspired by local artists and his work was part of the larger Bristol underground scene with Nick Walker, Inkie and 3D. From the start he used stencils as elements of his freehand pieces, too. By 2000 he had turned to the art of stencilling after realising how much less time it took to complete a piece. He claims he changed to stencilling whilst he was hiding from the police under a rubbish lorry, when he noticed the stencilled serial number and by employing this technique, he soon became more widely noticed for his art around Bristol and London.

Banksy's stencils feature striking and humorous images occasionally combined with slogans. The message is usually anti-war, anti-capitalist or anti-establishment. Subjects often include rats, apes, policemen, soldiers, children, and the elderly.

In July 2011 one of Banksy's early works Gorilla In A Pink Mask which had been a prominent landmark on the exterior wall of a former social club in Eastville for over ten years, was unknowingly painted over after the premises became a Muslim cultural centre.

On 19 June 2002, Banksy's first Los Angeles exhibition debuted at 33 1/3 Gallery, a tiny Silver Lake venue owned by Frank Sosa. The exhibition, entitled Existencilism, was curated by 33 1/3 Gallery, Malathion LA's Chris Vargas, Funk Lazy Promotions' Grace Jehan, and B+.

In 2003, at an exhibition called Turf War, held in a warehouse, Banksy painted on animals. Although the RSPCA declared the conditions suitable, an animal rights activist chained herself to the railings in protest. He later moved on to producing subverted paintings; one example is Monet's Water Lily Pond, adapted to include urban detritus such as litter and a shopping trolley floating in its reflective waters; another is Edward Hopper's Nighthawks, redrawn to show that the characters are looking at a British football hooligan, dressed only in his Union Flag underpants, who has just thrown an object through the glass window of the cafe. These oil paintings were shown at a twelve-day exhibition in Westbourne Grove, London in 2005.

Banksy, along with Shepard Fairey, Dmote and others created work at a warehouse exhibition in Alexandria, Sydney for Semi-Permanent in 2003. Approximately 1,500 people attended.

Jasper Johns

Jasper Johns, Jr. (born May 15, 1930) is an American contemporary artist who works primarily in painting and printmaking.

Born in Augusta, Georgia, Jasper Johns spent his early life in Allendale, South Carolina with his paternal grandparents after his parents' marriage failed. He then spent a year living with his mother in Columbia, South Carolina and thereafter he spent several years living with his aunt Gladys in Lake Murray, South Carolina, twenty-two miles from Columbia. He completed high school in Sumter, South Carolina, where he once again lived with his mother. Recounting this period in his life, he says, "In the place where I was a child, there were no artists and there was no art, so I really didn't know what that meant. I think I thought it meant that I would be in a situation different than the one that I was in." He began drawing when he was three and has continued doing art ever since.

Johns studied at the University of South Carolina from 1947 to 1948, a total of three semesters. He then moved to New York City and studied briefly at the Parsons School of Design in 1949. In 1952 and 1953 he was stationed in Sendai, Japan during the Korean War.

In 1954, after returning to New York, Johns met Robert Rauschenberg and they became long term lovers. In the same period he was strongly influenced by the gay couple Merce Cunningham (a choreographer) and John Cage (a composer). Working together they explored the contemporary art scene, and began developing their ideas on art. In 1958, gallery owner Leo Castelli discovered Johns while visiting Rauschenberg's studio. Castelli gave him his first solo show. It was here that Alfred Barr, the founding director of New York's Museum of Modern Art, purchased four works from his exhibition. In 1963, Johns and Cage founded Foundation for Contemporary Performance Arts, now known as Foundation for Contemporary Arts in New York City. Johns currently lives in Sharon, Connecticut and the Island of Saint Martin. He was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1984.

On February 15, 2011 he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama, becoming the first painter or sculptor to receive a Presidential Medal of Freedom since Alexander Calder in 1977.

James Rosenquist

James Rosenquist (born November 29, 1933) is an American artist and one of the protagonists in the pop-art movement.

He was born in Grand Forks, North Dakota and grew up as an only child. His parents, Louis and Ruth Rosenquist of Swedish descent, were amateur pilots and moved from town to town to look for work, finally settling in Minneapolis. His mother, who was also a painter, encouraged her son to have an artistic interest. In junior high school, Rosenquist won a short-term scholarship to study at the Minneapolis School of Art and subsequently studied painting at the University of Minnesota from 1952 to 1954. In 1955, at the age of 21, he moved to New York City on scholarship to study at the Art Students League.

From 1957 to 1960, he earned his living as a billboard painter. This was perfect training, as it turned out, for an artist about to explode onto the pop art scene. Rosenquist deftly applied sign-painting techniques to the large-scale paintings he began creating in 1960. Like other pop artists, Rosenquist adapted the visual language of advertising and pop culture (often funny, vulgar, and outrageous) to the context of fine art. Rosenquist achieved international acclaim in 1965 with the room-scale painting F-111.

Rosenquist has said the following about his involvement in the Pop Art movement: "They(art critics) called me a Pop artist because I used recognizable imagery. The critics like to group people together. I didn't meet Andy Warhol until 1964. I did not really know Andy or Roy Lichtenstein that well. We all emerged separately."

His specialty is taking fragmented, oddly disproportionate images and combining, overlapping, and putting them on canvases to create visual stories. This can leave some viewers breathless yet others confused, making them consider even the most familiar objects (a U-Haul trailer, or a box of Oxydol detergent, etc.) in more abstract and provocative ways.

Billy Apple

Billy Apple, ONZM (born Barrie Bates in Auckland, New Zealand in 1935) is an artist whose work is associated with the New York and British schools of Pop Art in the 1960s and with the Conceptual Art movement in the 1970s. He collaborated with the likes of Andy Warhol and other pop artists. His work is part of the permanent collection of the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa (New Zealand), Auckland Art Gallery / Toi o Tamaki (New Zealand), the Christchurch Art Gallery / Te Puna o Waiwhetu (New Zealand), The University of Auckland (New Zealand) and the SMAK/Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst (Ghent, Belgium).

In 1962 Bates conceived Billy Apple: he bleached his hair and eyebrows with Lady Clairol Instant Creme Whip and changed his name to Billy Apple. Apple had his first solo show in 1963 - Apple Sees Red: Live Stills - in London at Victor Musgrave's Gallery One.

Apple moved to New York in 1964: he progressed his artistic career and also found work in various advertising agencies.

A pivotal event was the 1964 exhibit "The American Supermarket", a show held in Paul Bianchini's Upper East Side gallery. The show was presented as a typical small supermarket environment, except that everything in it — the produce, canned goods, meat, posters on the wall, etc. — was created by six prominent pop artists of the time, including Billy Apple, Andy Warhol, Claes Oldenburg, Tom Wesselmann, Jasper Johns, Mary Inman, James Rosenquist and Robert Watts.

Apple was one of the artists who pioneered the use of neon in art works.[2] This is seen in the 1965 exhibitions Apples to Xerox and Neon Rainbows, both at The Bianchini Gallery. Then in 1967 at the Howard Wise Gallery, the exhibition Unidentified Flourecent Objects (UFOs) showed a collection of neon light sculptures.

In 1969 the artist established Apple, one of the first alternative spaces in New York at 161 West Twenty-third Street in order, as he stated, "to provide an independent and experimental alternative space for the presentation of [his] own work and the work of others." Initially the exhibition space was part of his own studio. During its four years Apple produced 35 works in the venue and hosted work by other artists including Geoff Hendricks, Mac Adams, Davi Det Hompson, Larry Miller and Jerry Vis. The space was considered both an exhibition space and a forum for art and discourse.

In 1974 Apple's first major survey exhibition was held at the Serpentine Gallery in London: From Barrie Bates to Billy Apple. In 1975 Apple returned to New Zealand for the first time in sixteen years. During the visit he embarked on a national exhibition tour with support from the Queen Elizabeth II Arts Council. Apple was then invited back by the Arts Council for a tour over the summer of 1979-1980. The exhibition he toured was called The Given as an Art Political Statement. During each tour he exhibited in spaces throughout the country.

During the 1980s, Apple's practice focused on the economics of the art world. The exhibition Art for Sale at Peter Webb gallery in 1980 was made up of a series of art works that were actual receipts for the payment given to the artist. This work progressed on to a series called Transactions. Other important series of work that began in the 1980s include Golden Rectangle series, and From the Collection.

He returned to New Zealand, permanently in 1990 and currently lives in Auckland. In 1991 the Wellington City Art Gallery staged a decade survey of his work: As Good as Gold: Billy Apple Art Transactions 1981-1991. Negotiations are underway between Saatchi & Saatchi and the New Zealand horticulture research centre to develop an apple that could be named "Billy Apple". In 2001 Apple created a company, "Billy Apple Ltd" in anticipation of securing licensing of the marketing rights over this new apple.

The artist has a long-standing interest and involvement in motor racing, which was acknowledged with the inclusion of two vehicles from his own collection in the 1991 As Good as Gold survey, as well as in the accompanying publication. This interest was brought to the fore with The Art Circuit, a sound performance work incorporating famous bikes and riders staged on the Auckland Art Gallery forecourt in 2007. This was followed by the 2008 solo exhibitioon, The Bruce and Denny Show, presented at Two Rooms in 2008 as a tribute to the McLaren brand, and particularly to the motoring triumphs of Bruce McLaren and Denny Hulme from 1967-1969. The exhibition included Hulme's $1.5 million McLaren M8A-2 racing car and text works that make reference to the tracks raced and the livery of the two drivers' cars.

In 2008 Apple was the subject of a feature length documentary called "Being Billy Apple". Produced by Spacific Films and directed by award winning filmmaker, Leanne Pooley, the documentary tells the story of Billy Apple's life from his POP period through his involvement with the conceptual art movement in New York during the 1970s to his current "horticultural/art" Apple endeavors.

In 2009 the Adam Art Gallery, Wellington staged the survey exhibition Billy Apple: New York 1969-1973, covering the activities undertaken by the artist in the not-for-profit gallery he ran from 161 West 23rd Street. Later in 2009 Witte de With Centre for Contemporary Art in Amsterdam presented a major exhibition in two parts; the first Billy Apple: A History of the Brand, surveys the artist's entire practice from inception as his own brand to the present day; the second, Revealed/Concealed, focuses on his works that critique the site of art through architectural interventions.

Pixnit

This Boston based artist is an important yet elusive element of the street arts. Her painting style, distinct stenciling techniques and her methods of simultaneously beautifying and criticizing the social scenario was well noted in her works. She was also perhaps one of the very few female artists who took on to graffiti art, which she excelled in.


Tom Wesselmann

Tom Wesselmann (February 23, 1931, Cincinnati – December 17, 2004) was an American artist associated with the Pop art movement who worked in painting, collage and sculpture.

From 1949 to 1951 he attended college in Ohio; first at Hiram College, and then transferred to major in Psychology at the University of Cincinnati. He was drafted into the US Army in 1952, but spent his service years stateside. During that time he made his first cartoons, and became interested in pursuing a career in cartooning. After his discharge he completed his psychology degree in 1954, whereupon he began to study drawing at the Art Academy of Cincinnati. He achieved some initial success when he sold his first cartoon strips to the magazines 1000 Jokes and True.

Cooper Union accepted him in 1956, and he continued his studies in New York. During a visit to the MoMA he was inspired by the Robert Motherwell painting Elegy to the Spanish Republic: “The first aesthetic experience… He felt a sensation of high visceral excitement in his stomach, and it seemed as though his eyes and stomach were directly connected”.

Wesselmann also admired the work of Willem de Kooning, but he soon rejected action painting: “He realized he had to find his own passion he felt he had to deny to himself all that he loved in de Kooning, and go in as opposite a direction as possible.".

In 1957 Wesselmann met Claire Selley, another Cooper Union student who was to become his friend, model, and later, his wife. 1958 was a pivotal year for Wesselmann. A landscape painting trip to Cooper Union's Green Camp in rural New Jersey, brought him to the realization
 that he could pursue painting, rather than cartooning, as a career.

1959-1964 - After graduation Wesselmann became one of the founding members of the Judson Gallery, along with Marc Ratliff and Jim Dine, also from Cincinnati, who had just arrived in New York. He and Ratliff showed a number of small collages in a two-man exhibition at Judson Gallery. He began to teach art at a public school in Brooklyn, and later at the High School of Art and Design.

Wesselmann's series Great American Nude (begun 1961) first brought him to the attention of the art world. After a dream concerning the phrase "red, white, and blue", he decided to paint a Great American Nude in a palette limited to those colors and any colors associated with patriotic motifs such as gold and khaki. The series incorporated representational images with an accordingly patriotic theme, such as American landscape photos and portraits of founding fathers. Often these images were collaged from magazines and discarded posters, which called for a larger format than Wesselmann had used previously. As works began to approach a giant scale he approached advertisers directly to acquire billboards. Through Henry Geldzahler Wesselmann met Alex Katz, who offered him a show at the Tanager Gallery. Wesselmann's first solo show was held there later that year, representing both the large and small Great American Nude collages. In 1962 Richard Bellamy offered him a one-man exhibition at the Green Gallery. About the same time, Ivan Karp of the Leo Castelli Gallery put Wesselmann in touch with several collectors and talked to him about Roy Lichtenstein and James Rosenquist’s works. These Wesselmann viewed without noting any similarities with his own {S. Stealingworth, p. 25}.

While not a cohesive movement, the idea of Pop Art (a name coined by Lawrence Alloway and others) was gradually spreading among international art critics and the public. In As Henry Geldzahler observed: “About a year and a half ago I saw the works of Wesselmann..., Warhol, Rosenquist and Lichtenstein in their studios (it was more or less July 1961). They were working independently, unaware of each other, but drawing on a common source of imagination. In the space of a year and a half they put on exhibitions, created a movement and we are now here discussing the matter in a conference. This is instant history of art, a history of art that became so aware of itself as to make a leap that went beyond art itself”.

The Sidney Janis Gallery held the New Realists exhibition in November 1962, which included works by the American artists Jim Dine, Robert Indiana, Roy Lichtenstein, Claes Oldenburg, James Rosenquist, George Segal, and Andy Warhol; and Europeans such as Arman, Enrico Baj, Christo, Yves Klein, Tano Festa, Mimmo Rotella, Jean Tinguely, and Mario Schifano. It followed the Nouveau Réalisme exhibition at the Galerie Rive Droite in Paris, and marked the international debut of the artists who soon gave rise to what came to be called Pop Art in Britain and The United States and Nouveau Réalisme on the European continent. Wesselmann took part in the New Realist show with some reservations, exhibiting two 1962 works: Still life #17 and Still life #22.

Wesselmann never liked his inclusion in American Pop Art, pointing out how he made an aesthetic use of everyday objects and not a criticism of them as consumer objects: “I dislike labels in general and 'Pop' in particular, especially because it overemphasizes the material used. There does seem to be a tendency to use similar materials and images, but the different ways they are used denies any kind of group intention”.

That year, Wesselmann had begun working on a new series of still lifes. experimenting with assemblage as well as collage. In Still Life #28 he included a television set that was turned on, “interested in the competitive demands that a TV, with moving images and giving off light and sound, can make on painted portions”. He concentrated on the juxtapositions of different elements and depictions, which were at the time truly exciting for him: “Not just the differences between what they were, but the aura each had with it... A painted pack of cigarettes next to a painted apple wasn’t enough for me. They are both the same kind of thing. But if one is from a cigarette ad and the other a painted apple, they are two different realities and they trade on each other... This kind of relationship helps establish a momentum throughout the picture... At first glance, my pictures seem well behaved, as if – that is a still life, O.K. But these things have such crazy give-and-take that I feel they get really very wild”. He married Claire Selley in November 1963.

In 1964 Ben Birillo, an artist and business partner of gallery owner Paul Bianchini, contacted Wesselmann and other Pop artists with the goal of organizing The American Supermarket at the Bianchini Gallery in New York. This was an installation of a large supermarket where Pop works (Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup, Watts’s colored wax eggs etc.) were shown among real food and neon signs. In the same year Wesselmann began working on landscapes, including one that includes the noise of a Volkswagen starting up. The first shaped canvas nudes also appeared this year.

His works in these years: Great American Nude #53, Great American Nude #57, show an accentuated, more explicit, sensuality, as though celebrating the rediscovered sexual fulfilment of his new relationship. He carried on working on his landscapes, but also made the Great American Nude #82, reworking the nude in a third dimension not defined by drawn lines but by medium: molded plexiglass modeled on the female figure, then painted. His compositional focus also became more daring, narrowing down to isolate a single detail: the Mouth series began in 1965, his Seascapes began the following year. Two other new subjects also appeared: Bedroom Painting , and Smoker Study, the latter of which developed from observation of his model for the Mouth series. The Smoker Study series of works would become one of the most recurrent themes in the 1970s.

Beginning in 1965, Wesselmann made several studies for seascapes in oil while vacationing in Cape Cod and upstate New York. In his New York City studio, he used an old projector to enlarge them into large-format works. This series of views, called the Drop-Out series were constructed from the negative space around a breast. The breast and torso frame one side of the image while the arm and the leg form the other two sides. This series of works would become one of the most recurrent themes in the 1970s. He started working on shaped canvases and opted for increasingly large formats.

He worked constantly on the Bedroom Painting series, in which elements of the Great American Nude, Still Lifes and Seascapes were juxtaposed. With these works Wesselmann began to concentrate on a few details of the figure such as hands, feet, and breasts, surrounded by flowers and objects. The Bedroom Paintings shifted the focus and scale of the attendant objects around a nude; these objects are small in relation to the nude, but become major, even dominant elements when the central element is a body part. The breast of a concealed woman appeared in a box among Wesselmann's sculpted still life elements in a piece entitled Bedroom Tit Box, a key work that “...in its realness and internal scale (the scale relationships between the elements) represents the basic idea of the Bedroom Painting”.

In 1980 Wesselmann published the monograph Tom Wesselmann, an autobiography written under the pseudonym Slim Stealingworth. His second daughter, Kate, was born; previous children were Jenny and Lane.

In 1983 Wesselmann was seized by the idea of doing a drawing in steel, as if the lines on paper could be lifted off and placed on a wall. Once in place the drawings appeared to be drawn directly on the wall. This idea preceded the available technology for lasers to mechanically cut metal with the accuracy Wesselmann needed. He had to invest in the development of a system that could accomplish this, but it took another year for that to be ready. The incorporation of negative space that had begun in the Drop-Out series was continued into a new medium and format. They started out as works in black and white, enabling him to redevelop the theme of the nude and its composition. Wesselmann took his idea further and decided to make them in color as well. As well as colored metal nudes, in 1984 he started working on rapid landscape sketches that were then enlarged and fabricated in aluminum.

Obliged by the use of metals to experiment with various techniques, Wesselmann cut works in aluminum by hand; for steel he researched and developed the first artistic use of laser-cut metal. Computerized imaging had not yet been developed.

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