In February 1958, art critic and curator Lawrence Alloway published his landmark essay, “The Arts and the Mass Media”. His ideas contained therein, outline the evolution and origins for what would later be regarded as the Pop Art movement, which began in postwar, reconstructive Britain, and spread a few years thereafter to the economically prospering United States.
According to Alloway, “Technical change as dramatized novelty (usually spurred by economic necessity) is characteristic not only of the cinema but of all the mass arts. Colour TV, the improvements in colour printing (particularly in American magazines), the new range of paper back books; all are part of the constant technical improvements in the channels of mass communication.”
Much as the Guttenberg press did for literature and the Gramophone for music, new technologies and channels of communication provided larger audiences access to its arts, both redefining culture and providing a new role for fine art.
Fueled by growing consumerism and commercialism, our visual experiences, from the aisles of the supermarket to the covers of magazines to the scenes on our televisions, stretched our definition of culture, extending it “beyond the fine art limits imposed on it by Renaissance theory, increasingly, to the whole complex of human activities” [Alloway]. Subsequently, fine art began to represent the rapidly changing nature of our lives and our responses to increasingly tech-oriented and visually amplified environments.
Artists began to explore, through different techniques and technologies, the possibilities of integrating these new and unavoidable visual art experiences. Characteristics of this new Pop Art genre included: enlargement, repetition, comic book approach, food and drink, automobile, words as images, montage, advertisement and soft sculpture.
Richard Hamilton, a counterpart of Alloway’s in the Independent Group, explained the movement as “ the development of our perceptive potentialities to accept and utilize the continual enrichment of visual material”. To Hamilton and others, the imagery of our mass arts did not need a “meaningful definition”. Rather, it needed a meaningful response.
And this it received - from artists such as Jasper Johns, Robert Indiana, Tom Wesselmann, David Hockney, Sigmar Polke, Edward Ruscha, James Rosenquist, Peter Blake, Andy Warhol, Alex Katz, Roy Lichtenstein and many others.
While the era associated with the movement largely concluded in the early 1970’s, the cultural and technological changes that birthed it, affect us today in strikingly similar and foretelling ways. With the Cold War over, consumerism roared again in 1990s, and the advent of the PC together with other new methods of telecommunications have once again generated new pathways and approaches to the mass arts, thereby impacting the role of fine art.
By comparison - In 1960, ninety percent of American households had a television set, while presently; over ninety percent of American households have a computer with broadband access.
As a result, our definition of culture continues to be stretched by the evolving experiences we have (and share) involving new media and the growing prevalence of mass arts. Like the technological advancements that propagated the Pop Art movement, the Internet and all its modern access points, correspondingly offer contemporary audiences the resources to expand the framework potential for fine art and its role in the rapidly changing nature of our lives.
Galleray (www.galleray.com) promotes this connective and progressive approach. An online resource for art, artists, and art lovers, Galleray.com gives people the power to discover, follow and experience fine art from around the world. In hosting a new model for pop-up exhibitions, “P.O.P. IN PROGRESS (Prevalence Offering Potentialities)”, Galleray showcases contemporary artists whose works reflect stylistic and thematic influences of the Pop Art movement. The exhibition presents a diverse cross-selection of paintings, photographs, collages, sculptures, mixed media works and drawings across a variety of mediums (digital, canvas, video, projection, print, paper, sculpture); all in acknowledgment of how we have progressed our definition of culture and the potential for fine art.
| P.O.P. IN PROGRESS | April 18-27, 2013 | Bowery & Rivington, NYC | Galleray.com