The seeds of Pop Art were sown in London in the mid-1950s, when artists, writers and architects gathered to discuss science, industry, mass media, philosophy, music and fashion. Against the bleak, grey backdrop of post-war Britain, the technicolour imagery of America — its advertisements and magazines — appeared truly exotic. Collecting this ‘found imagery’, British Pop artists developed work of a distinctive collage-based style.
Across the Atlantic, the American art scene was in transition. The so-called Neo-Dada artists began to incorporate found objects into their work, combining gestural mark-making with mechanically reproduced imagery, and fusing vertical, wall-mounted works with horizontal, floor-based sculptural components. This remarkable clash of elements provided a dramatic departure from the heroics of Abstract Expressionism.
And what could be more ‘anti-heroic’ than the worn-out, over-used images of industry and mass production? By the early 1960s, artists such as Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Claes Oldenburg and James Rosenquist were establishing a new visual language comprising comic-strips, soup cans, soft sculpture, explosions, cars and photographic reproductions that emphasised the cult of celebrity, cultural clichés and serial imagery. Throughout the 1970s, Pop Art became a global phenomenon with artists across Europe, Latin America, the Middle East and Asia, contributing unique statements.