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Consumer Culture In Pop Art

Decent Essays
The pop movement established itself during the rapid multinational corporate American expansion of the late 1950’s to mid-1960’s (Mamiya 1992, 14). Recognised for their study of subjects of popular culture and incorporation of “commercial techniques.” (Burton 2007, 113), Pop artists embraced “the culture of the masses” (Wilson 2011, 3). Although the Pop artists remained critically aware of the shortcomings within consumer culture their entanglement with the mentality and techniques of the culture “…surely rendered any potential for critique futile and invalid." (Mamiya 1992, 158). This essay will explore the interplay between critique and celebration of consumer culture within Pop Art and possible reasons for the diversity in reaction. This will be achieved through the study of the influence of consumer culture on the Pop artists, the artists’ response to this emerging culture, as well as the positive and critical representations of consumer culture within their work. The complex and contradictory relationship between consumer culture and pop artists will be explored through Richard Hamilton’s Just what is it that makes today’s homes so different, so appealing? (1956), Andy Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup Cans (1962) and Tom Wesselmann’s Great American Nude #54 (1964).

To discuss the pop artist’s relationship with consumer culture, we must first define consumer culture in the first Pop age. The swift rate of twentieth-century technological advancements and “…urbanisation…” in
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