Input/ Output
- Pop Art

Pop Art - though often considered a typical American phenomenon, with Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein being its iconic figures - started in Europe in the end of the 1950ies. It was the influence of Dada and the reaction against cubism and abstract expressionism which lead artists like Richard Hamilton in London and Jean Tinguely in Switzerland to develop humorous artworks, which showed little distance to everyday materials, which mingled with mass culture, and which more often kept the audience entertained than it left the audience seriously contemplating. Hamilton once described Pop as "positive Dada". The difference to the pre-war Dada manifestations and artworks was Pop's light and non-destructive approach - at least in Hamilton's eyes.

Another Pop hero, Claes Oldenbourg stated in 1961: "I am for an art that takes its forms from the lines of life itself, that twists and extends and accumulates and spits and drips and is heavy and coarse and blunt and sweet and stupid as life itself." Oldenbourg arrived at Pop from a background in abstract expressionist painting, as did Rauschenberg. The major difference between Abstract Expressionism and Pop Art is that Abstract Expressionism looked inside the artist for the raw material of art, and Pop Art looked to the outside world of advertising, celebrities and the media. It became clear to Pop artists that popular culture itself had begun to dominate our culture, and needed to be explored as subject matter in art.

Richard Hamilton, Daniel Spoerri, Jean Tinguely, Robert Rauschenberg, Roy Lichtenstein, Jim Dine, Claes Oldenburg, James Rosenquist, Andy Warhol, Yoko Ono.

Fig.: Painting "President Elect" (1960-61) by James Rosenquist. 228 x 366 cm. Collection du Musée d'art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris.

"Pop Art is:

Popular (designed for a mass audience)
Transient (short-term solution)
Expendable (easily forgotten)
Low Cost
Mass produced
Young
Witty
Sexy
Gimmicky
Glamourous
Big business
...
Yours!"

(Richard Hamilton - from a letter to Peter and Alison Smithson, 1957)