Pittsburgh Pop Art

What are we doing?

Pittsburgh Pop Art

We are waiting for the cherries to pop.

Pittsburgh Pop Art

Why?

Pittsburgh Pop Art

Because they are pop art!

Pittsburgh Pop Art

🙂

Pop art is an art movement that emerged in the 1950s and flourished in the 1960s in America and Britain, at a time when advertising came of age, when ad men learned how to stop lecturing, and instead practice the dark arts of seduction. They exploited hyper real colours and graphic brand logos to repeat the mantra, you can never have too much.

By the early 1960s, a new generation of artists was confronting the strangeness of consumer society. Jasper Jones and his flags had already began to dig beneath the surface of America’s brave new world, and those who followed called themselves pop artists, their subject being popular culture. They drew inspiration from sources in popular and commercial culture such as advertising, Hollywood movies and pop music.

Chief pop artists in America were Roy Lichtenstein, Claes Oldenburg and Andy Warhol.

Roy Lichtenstein, Look Mickey, 1961
Roy Lichtenstein, Look Mickey, 1961

Cherries!

Roy Lichtenstein, Still Life with Portrait from 'Six Still Lifes', 1974
Roy Lichtenstein, Still Life with Portrait from ‘Six Still Lifes’, 1974

Of course, the most famous pop cherry is in Minneapolis!

The Cherry and Spoon Sculpture

Claes Oldenburg, an American sculptor born in Stockholm, is best known for his public art installations typically featuring very large replicas of everyday objects. Many of his works were made in collaboration with his wife, Coosje van Bruggen. In 1988, the two created the iconic Spoonbridge and Cherry sculpture for the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota that remains a staple of the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden as well as a classic image of the city. And the only reason Puffles and Honey went to Minneapolis! To sit on the spoobridge!

The Cherry and Spoon Sculpture

The one pop artist whose work seems to embrace consumerism is Andy Warhol. He took America’s most familiar mass-produced objects and represented them as art. An art of numb repetition that mimics the production line.

By 1960, Warhol had become one of the most successful commercial artists in New York. He drew, with a distinctive and recognizable line, magazine illustrations, advertisements, book jackets, and album covers, and he owned a four-story town house on the Upper East Side. But he had fine-art aspirations.

Warhol’s big break finally came in 1962, with a one-man exhibition at the Ferus Gallery, in Los Angeles. This was “32 Campbell’s Soup Cans” — 32 paintings of soup cans, each a different flavor. In 1962, there were 32 varieties of Campbell’s soup available. Warhol appears to be saying, in this world there is variety, but only of a certain kind. And the variety promised by the range of flavours is ultimately overshadowed by the visual monotony.

Andy Warhol, Campbells Soup Cans, 1962
Andy Warhol, Campbell’s Soup Cans, 1962

Though Campbell’s Soup Cans resembles the mass-produced, printed advertisements by which Warhol was inspired, it is hand-painted, while the fleur de lys pattern ringing each can’s bottom edge is hand-stamped. In this work, he mimicked the repetition and uniformity of advertising by carefully reproducing the same image across each individual canvas. He varied only the label on the front of each can, distinguishing them by their variety.

Towards the end of 1962, shortly after he completed Campbell’s Soup Cans, Warhol turned to the photo-silkscreen process. A printmaking technique originally invented for commercial use, it would become his signature medium and link his art making methods more closely to those of advertisements. He used photographic imagery, the silkscreen process and repetition to make art that was not about his interior life, but rather about the culture in which he lived. The silkscreen process allowed Warhol (or his assistants) to reproduce the same image over and over again, using multiple colors. Once the screens are manufactured and the colors are chosen, the artist simply spreads inks evenly over the screens using a wide squeegee. Though there are differences from one face to the next, these appear to be the accidental byproducts of a quasi-mechanical process, rather than the product of the artist’s judgment.

Andy Warhol, Marilyn, 1967
Andy Warhol, Marilyn Monroe, 1967

Ultimately Warhol subjected individuals to the same replication as mass-produced consumer items. He was mirroring America’s treatment of celebrities as products, an object replicated for mass consumption. No artist craved fame more than Warhol, and his key insight, that celebrities are commodities like soup cans or Coca-Cola bottles, only made him more desperate to become such a product himself.

Andy Warhol, Self portrait, 1966
Andy Warhol, Self portrait, 1966

You can get your Andy Warhol pop art fix at the Andy Warhol Museum.

Andy Warhol Museum
Andy Warhol Museum
Andy Bohol Museum
Andy Warhol Museum

Andy Warhol Museum is the largest single-artist museum in the country. Housed in a refurbished warehouse, on seven floors, the museum includes thousands of works in many media: painting, drawing, photography, sculpture, film and video. An enormous collection of source material — audiotape interviews with friends and associates, thousands of photographs, books, and magazines — sheds light on the artist, the man, his creative processes, and his legacy. Many of Warhol’s seminal works, like his Brillo Box sculptures and Elvis paintings, are on display, as are pop paintings of consumer products (Campbell’s Soup Cans), celebrities (Liz, Jackie, Marilyn), Disasters and Electric Chairs; portrait paintings (Mao), Skull paintings and the abstract Oxidations from the 1970s; and works from the 1980s such as The Last Supper, Raphael I-6.99 and collaborative paintings made with younger artists such as Jean-Michel Basquiat and Francesco Clemente.

Andy Warhol
Andy Warhol, Mickey Mouse, 1982

In 1981, Warhol became a Mouseketeer!, when he decided to create a portfolio of screen prints of fictional characters, including Mickey Mouse. Warhol’s Myths portfolio also included characters such as Superman, Howdy Doody and Dracula.

Andy Warhol,
Andy Warhol, Double Mickey Mouse, 1981
Andy Warhol, Quadrant Mickey Mouse, 1981 (sold at Christie's in 2015 for USD 4,533,000!!)
Andy Warhol, Quadrant Mickey Mouse, 1981 (sold at Christie’s in 2015 for USD 4,533,000!!)

In 1955, Warhol worked on one of the shoe industry’s most sophisticated marketing campaigns when he became an illustrator for I. Miller and Sons Shoes. At the time, I. Miller was attempting to create a new image for itself and experimented with marketing strategies that made use of repetition to imprint their product on the minds of consumers. Stamping allowed Warhol to quickly create a variety of illustrations along a similar theme. He could alter the color and composition of the artworks, giving his clients a selection from which to choose. The experiment was extremely successful, and Warhol became known in the industry as “the shoe person”.

Andy Warhol, Shoe with Stamped Cherries, 1950s, ©AWF
Andy Warhol, Shoe with Stamped Cherries, 1950s, ©AWF

Puffles and Honey were able to bring home two very good looking pop cherries by the Andy Warhol of a new generation, Burton Morris, another Pittsburgh native.

Let Them Eat Cake

Morris reached enormous popularity during the television series “Friends”.

Friends, Burton Morris print in the background
“Friends”, Burton Morris painting in the background

Over a dozen original paintings were part of the show’s permanent set over its ten season run, most notably the painting of the coffee cup titled “Coffee Break”, which had a home in the Central Perk coffee shop.

Friends, Burton Morris print in the background
“Friends”, “Coffee Break” by Burton Morris in the background

In 2000, NBC Television commissioned more of Morris’ artwork, this time for the show “Just Shoot Me”. His work also explodes across the labels of Perrier bottles and Pepsi-Cola cans.

Perrier
Perrier

Pittsburgh Pop Art

Much like his Pittsburgh pop predecessor Andy Warhol, Morris became the artist of choice for national advertising campaigns for Anheuser-Busch and Honda, as well as the “Absolut Pennsylvania” entry in Absolut Vodka’s “Absolut Statehood” campaign.

Burton Morris, Pittsburgh Skyline
Burton Morris, Pittsburgh Skyline

Morris was fascinated by Andy Warhol’s images and colors. The idea of mixing illustration with graphic design and putting a twist on familiar images of popular culture, such as comic strips and supermarket products, as a positive, upbeat and refreshing style, appealed to Morris as well.

Morris developed a connection with comic books at the age of three after breaking his femur bone. He began to draw while bedridden. Initially inspired by the work of Albrecht Dürer, Morris tried to emulate the fine pen and ink work of this classical artist’s etchings, using rapidograph pens for his tight drawings. Later he was influenced by the work of Andy Warhol, Tom Wesselman, Roy Lichtenstein and Keith Haring. He was always looking for symbols that represented American culture: the coffee cup symbolizing the Starbucks revolution, slot machines for the gaming industry and the popcorn box as the icon for the Hollywood era.

Burton Morris, Coffee Break
Burton Morris, Coffee Break
Burton Morris, Jackpot
Burton Morris, Jackpot
Burton Morris, POP Popcorn
Burton Morris, POP Popcorn
Burton Morris and Stan Lee
Burton Morris and Stan Lee

In 2004, he was commissioned by The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to create a re-energized image, something that would get people’s attention, for the 76th Annual Academy Awards.

 76th Annual Academy Awards, 2004
76th Annual Academy Awards, 2004

Also in 2004, he was commissioned by the International Olympic Museum of Lausanne, Switzerland, to provide a contemporary vision that captured the Spirit of the Games.

 2004 Summer Olympic Games, Athens
2004 Summer Olympic Games, Athens

Morris creates images that vibrate with enormous energy and style. Walk into any room with a Burton Morris painting on the wall, and you are instantly enamored by the playful spirit it exudes.

Pittsburgh Pop Art

Pittsburgh Pop Art

Still waiting 🙂

Pittsburgh Pop Art

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