The Politics of Pop Art

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Do you agree that Pop art is a critique of the values of post-War urban culture in the United States or is there some validity in the arguments that suggest that Pop art is another representation of profit-based propaganda? Select works from two or three artists to examine this question.

Pop art was born out of the needs of Post-war America and its capitalist driven economy, where consumption was key and everything was a commodity that had to be readily available. The diversity within the movement arose from how the Pop artists approached this culture of post-war America, whether it was through parody, fetishization, or just pure replication; as well as what aspects of the culture they chose to reflect on. The sheer diversity of themes and styles covered by the various pop artists means that one cannot be too reductive when analysing this art movement. It is therefore with this in mind that this essay will examine just two Pop artists, Andy Warhol and Tom Wesselmann, to examine both artists’ use of commercial methods teamed with images borrowed from popular culture and how they established their own unique technique and style to reflect on the capitalist culture rising in America.

Post-war America was a time of great growth and development, as America moved into a position of political and economic leadership, newfound pride in the American way of life and American culture flourished. The economic boom meant newfound freedom for Americans, as having money and freely spending it became a primary aspect of the American identity. However, with this prosperity came great pressure by the government on the people of America to continue their high consumption patterns to maintain the economic growth in the country. Thus it was to be that consumerism, commercialism and the celebrity were to define the general post-war climate within America, and it was these values…...

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