4 Pop Art Giants Who Transformed the Genre

Who were some of the giants of the Pop Art movement, and what was their impact? Let’s meet four of the most influential Pop Artists and uncover their groundbreaking pieces. 

In our previous blog post, we explored the Pop Art movement which emerged in the post-war landscape of the 1950s. We dipped our toes into three of the most iconic pieces that defined the genre and still make an impression on viewers today.


But who were some of the giants of the Pop Art movement, and what was their impact? Let’s meet four of the most influential Pop Artists and uncover their groundbreaking pieces. 


Andy Warhol

A leading figure within the Pop Art movement, Andy Warhol made waves in the 1960s, emerging to fame with his famous ‘Campbell’s Soup Canspiece. 


Growing up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and graduating from the Carnegie Institute for Technology in 1949, Warhol began his career as a commercial illustrator for advertisements and magazines. 


After focusing more on his personal practice, Warhol introduced the concept of Pop Art in 1961. The following year, he debuted his famous soup cans and history was made. 

Among his most widely recognised works include:


Marilyn Diptych

Created a shortly after her death, Warhol’s Marilyn Monroe piece a silkscreen painting containing 50 images of Monroe taken from her 1953 film Niagara. In 1998, the painting sold for $17.3 million at Sotheby’s.


Eight Elvises

Painted in 1963, Eight Elvises is another silkscreen painting composed of eight identical, overlapping images of pop icon Elvis Presley. Originally, the piece formed a larger 37-foot piece with 16 Elvises and exhibited in a 1963 show at the Ferus Gallery in Los Angeles. In 2008, it sold for a record-breaking $100 million, and it hasn’t been seen publicly since.


Roy Lichtenstein

Operating alongside Warhol was Roy Lichtenstein, Roy Lichtenstein played a central role in the proliferation of the Pop Art movement. 


Growing up in New York City, Lichtenstein was influenced by the artistic and musical environment around him from a young age. In 1940, he enrolled in painting classes at the Art Students League where he developed a social realist style. 


By the 1960s, his style changed as he looked to comic books and advertisements  as his subjects. By the time he had finished Girl with a Ball in 1961, he had fully recognised the new abstract style he had adopted, cementing his association with the Pop Art movement. 

Some of his most widely recognised works include:


Drowning Girl

This oil and synthetic polymer paint on canvas painting was based on the cover of the 1962 DC Comics book Run for Love. He altered the text in the original from “I don’t care if I have a cramp!” to “I don’t care!”, injecting humour and emotion into the piece. It sold at a New York auction in 2011 for a record-breaking $43 million USD (£27 million).


Whaam!

One of Lichtenstein’s most defining pieces, Whaam! was created in 1963. This took the form of a diptych, and serves as part of a series on the war which was inspired by an issue of 1962 DC Comic books titled ‘All-American Men of War’. It is now on display at the Tate Gallery in London and is estimated to be worth over $100 million USD.


Richard Hamilton

For London-born artist Richard Hamilton, the Pop Art movement wasn’t just an art style, but a way of life.  He immersed himself in all aspects of pop culture and worked to bridge the gap between high art and consumerism. 


His art style developed in the 1950s, paving the way for Pop Art to emerge as a movement in the 1960s with the arrival of artists such as Warhol and Lichtenstein. 


Some of his most famous works include: 

Just What Is It That Makes Today’s Homes So Different, So Appealing?

This 1956 collage is considered to be one of the most famous British post-war art pieces. Shown as part of the ‘This is Tomorrow’ exhibition at the Whitechapel Art Gallery, and uses clippings from American magazines to demonstrate the various methods of communication that were available at that time, interspersed with pop culture icons. 


Fun House

Also exhibited in the Whitechapel Exhibition, Fun House is another early example of Pop Art. Using an image of the structure built by architect John Voelcker, Hamilton added to it with a collage of oversized pop culture images and advertisements. Alongside it, pop music loudly played accompanied by a robotic voice, serving as a performative sensory overload unseen by British art goers of the time. 


David Hockney 

A man who needs no introduction, David Hockney has been hailed as one of the most influential artists of the 20th Century. The British artist was a hugely prominent figure in the Pop Art movement of the 1960s, which he associated with to make art more accessible and less ‘boring’. 


Splitting his time between the two vastly different landscapes of the UK and California, Hockney’s landscapes display a shart contrast depending on the location. He also uses his art style to depict the personalities and relationships between the people he is close to. 


Some of his most famous works include: 


Going Up Garrowby Hill

The vibrant colours and winding road depicts Hockney’s view from the Yorkshire moors, where Garrowby Hill is situated. It is widely believed that Hockney painted this from memory, rather than from reference. It is now on display at the Museum of Fine Arts, in Boston, USA.


A Bigger Splash

Easily his most recognisable piece, A Bigger Splash was painted in 1967 while Hockney was staying in California. Derived partly from a photograph Hockney had seen in a book, the painting depicts a view of a swimming pool with a 1960s modernist architecture behind it, with a big splash of water as though someone has dived into the pool. It sold for $29.8 million USD at a Sotheby’s auction in February 2020, making it the 3rd highest price paid for a Hockney painting.



The Pop Art movement has been shaped and defined by many influential artists since its inception, and it continues to be moulded further in today’s’ modern landscape. Our latest exhibition Doing:unDoing examines Pop Art today and how the events of 2020 will inevitably shape our futures. 


Discover the Exhibition >