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Art History: Abstract Art vs. Pop Art Essay

There have been different art forms that have come and gone over the course of time. Some of the most intriguing art forms in my mind come from the 20th century. Out of all of these 20th century art forms, geometric abstract art and pop art are my favorite. These two art movements came close to each other in reference to time period. Geometric abstract art originated in the 7th century but became a dominant movement in 1937. Pop art emerged in the 1950s. These two art forms were similar in ways but they had different moods of expression. We will take a closer look at each one of these forms of art. Geometric abstraction form uses lines, squares, triangles and circles painted with primary or secondary colors or are sculpted in steel or aluminum. As mentioned, the focus of geometric abstraction began in New York after the outbreak of World War II where the tradition was continued by the American Abstract Artists group formed in 1937.

The War had a great impact on the economy that was struggling to recover. War is always something that has effects on families and friends that have the daily threat of losing loved ones to injuries or even death. Being that art is a mighty way to express one self, geometric abstraction became popular throughout this time in history. The economic recovery after the war was positive and geometric abstract art had a strong impact on the society at that time. This art form has continued and is still seen various places in today’s society. One of the most famous geometric abstract srtists was Kazimir Malevich. Malevich is famous for his painting The Black Spuare. He was known for expressing himself in a spiritual way through his work. Music was one of his main ways to express himself but geometric abstraction was Malevich’s way of expressing “pure feeling.”

This “pure feeling” is expressed in his work, The Black Square. This square was simply represented many things. It represented feeling, God, a void, and an icon. It is amazing how one great artist can use a simple square that represented so many things. This form of art has passed down to our generation what it means to express yourself through art. The Pop Art period came immediately after the Geometric abstraction period. This form of art originated in Britain way back in the mid 1950’s. Sometime from the late 1950’s, through the 1960’s it made its way into America and flourished throughout the 1970’s. This art was known as “fun” art because of the sense of humor portrayed in the art. This art period marked the end of modernism and was at the beginning of the postmodern era.

“With respect to pop art, an artist would select required material fro, its source, isolate the entities that it is composed of and combine them with others extracted in a similar manner for consideration (pop art).” The social conditions that may have contributed to this style included the need by the artists to cut out identities and niches, “due to the academic orientation that was taking shape (pop art).” The term “pop art” began with artist Lawrence Aalloway. Lawrence was and English art critic that used this term to break away from the dominance of abstract art. The main point of pop art as a whole was to bring art back into the daily life of Americans.

One of the most famous Pop Art artist is Andy Warhol. Andy was one of the first artist to use “repetition for allowing an iconic image to lose all value (pop art).” Andy’s most famous works of art is the Campbell’s soup cans. This started in 1962. Campbell’s soup can labels are very popular even in todays society. We see them on a regular basis in everyday life. Because it is so common, it has had a huge impact on advertisement for the Campbell’s soup company. Pop art began to be a great form of advertisement for many companies. This is one of the biggest impacts that pop art has on today’s society and art world. Little did Andy Warhol know, but his design would still be dominant and popular in 2012.

These two art forms can be compared by looking at what the artist were trying to convey. Artists from both forms use their art to express some kind of emotion. They do this by using vibrant and neon colors. There are also the same in that they are both paintings. The main thing that these two art periods have in common is the fact that they occurred around the World War II days. The main difference is that pop art depicts things as opposed to abstract art that has no subject. For example, abstract art uses big canvases and applies paint rapidly for expression as opposed to pop art which brings things of everyday life into art. It does this by using comics, television, and magazines. Pop artist found abstract expressionism to pretentious and intense. Abstract art is mainly based on emotion due to the horror of World War II and the conditions of the times. Pop art brought an era of excitement and enthusiasm through the tough times.

It did this through fun forms of logos and advertisement. Pop art relates to abstract art by the idea of emotion being expressed through art, as well as they are both painting eras. For example, the two works of art mentioned earlier, The Black Square and the Campbell’s Soup logo are not drawings or sketching, but rather paintings. These two art forms can be compared by looking at what the artist were trying to convey. Artists from both forms use their art to express some kind of emotion. They do this by using vibrant and neon colors. Abstract artist would pick up paint brushes and began to throw out some designs in form of expression. Pop artists would attempt to express a fun and entertaining vibe through their work. They can also be compared with the fact that they both are paintings and come from the same overall time period.

Pop art had a major impact on the art world. Pop art impacted music as pop music began in the 1950’s and 60’s. Pop art was used in the designs for the music covers of music artists such as Elvis Presley and the Beatles. Movie stars such as Marilyn Monroe were also conveyed through pop art. Famous pop artist Andy Warhol developed the concept of silkscreen printing which is used for mass production. Pop art was one of the biggest eras that renovated the art world by giving people and avenue for advertisement that is still used today such as the Campbell’s soup can labels. It was also an avenue for comic books and fashion. All of these things are still found in today’s art world.


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