Obsessed with celebrity, consumer culture, and mechanical (re)production, Pop artist Andy Warhol created some of the most iconic images of the 20th century. As famous for his quips as for his art he variously mused that “art is what you can get away with” and “everyone will be famous for 15 minutes”—Warhol drew widely from popular culture and everyday subject matter, creating works like his 32 Campbell's Soup Cans (1962), Brillo pad box sculptures, and portraits of Marilyn Monroe, using the medium of silk-screen printmaking to achieve his characteristic hard edges and flat areas of color. Known for his cultivation of celebrity, Factory studio (a radical social and creative melting pot), and avant-garde films like Chelsea Girls (1966), Warhol was also a mentor to artists like Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat. His Pop sensibility is now standard practice, taken up by major contemporary artists Richard Prince, Takashi Murakami, and Jeff Koons, among countless others.
Holy cats by Andy Warhol's Mother, Offset Lithograph, 1954, 1950-1959
Northwest Coast Mask (F&S II.380)
Happy Flower Gathering Days
Warhol, Martin Buber Portrait ScreenPrint on Lennox Museum Board, 1980
'Flowers' Offset Lithograph, 1964
'Paolo Uccello St George and the dragon 1460' Screen Print, 1984
A prolific and tireless innovator of art forms, Pablo Picasso impacted the course of 20th-century art with unparalleled magnitude. Inspired by African and Iberian art and developments in the world around him, Picasso contributed significantly to a number of artistic movements, notably Cubism, Surrealism, Neoclassicism, and Expressionism. Along with Georges Braque, Picasso is best known for pioneering Cubism in an attempt to reconcile three-dimensional space with the two-dimensional picture plane, once asking, “Are we to paint what’s on the face, what’s inside the face, or what’s behind it?” Responding to the Spanish Civil War, he painted his most famous work, Guernica (1937), whose violent images of anguished figures rendered in grisaille made it a definitive work of anti-war art. “Painting is not made to decorate apartments,” he said. “It’s an offensive and defensive weapon against the enemy.” Picasso’s sizable oeuvre includes over 20,000 paintings, prints, drawings, sculptures, ceramics, theater sets, and costume designs.
Madoura Ceramic Pitcher-'Tarasque,' Ramié 247
Madoura Ceramic Plate 'Visage au trat Oblique' Ramié 588, 1968
Madoura Ceramic Plate 'Joueur de Flute' Ramié 128, 1951
Madoura Ceramic Ashtray - Oiseau au ver, Ramié 172
Madoura Ceramic Ashtray - Oiseau sur la branche, Ramié 175
Madoura Ceramic Ashtray - Picador, Ramié 176
Daniel Arsham employs elements of architecture, performance, and sculpture to manipulate and distort understandings of structures and space. Arsham became widely known at the age of 25 when he was asked to design his first of several sets for Merce Cunningham’s productions. His practice has been guided by a curiosity for architecture and structured space, stemming from childhood memories of seeing the wreckage of Hurricane Andrew in his hometown of Miami. Some of his best-known works include a series of installations that destabilize the solidity of gallery walls, such that they appear to be dripping, folding, oozing, or absorbing furniture; also figuring among his oeuvre are pixelated clouds based on photographs and rendered with hand-colored spheres, and sculptures made from granulated materials like crushed glass. He is also active as one half of the art and architecture collaborative Snarkitecture, along with Alex Mustonen.
Whether plastering cities with his trademark parachuting rat, painting imagined openings in the West Bank barrier in Israel or stencilling “We’re bored of fish” above a penguins’ zoo enclosure, Banksy creates street art with an irreverent wit and an international reputation that precedes his anonymous identity. “TV has made going to the theatre seem pointless, photography has pretty much-killed painting,” he says, “but graffiti has remained gloriously unspoilt by progress.” Banksy has gained his notoriety through a range of urban interventions, from modifying street signs and printing his own currency to illegally hanging his own works in institutions such as the Louvre and the Museum of Modern Art. Most often using spray paint and stencils, Banksy has crafted a signature, immediately identifiable graphic style—and a recurring cast of cops, soldiers, children, and celebrities—through which he critically examines contemporary issues of consumerism, political authority, terrorism, and the status of art and its display.
American artist Alexander Calder changed the course of modern art by developing an innovative method of sculpting, bending, and twisting wire to create three-dimensional “drawings in space.” Resonating with the Futurists and Constructivists, as well as the language of early non-objective painting, Calder’s mobiles (a term coined by Marcel Duchamp in 1931 to describe his work) consist of abstract shapes made of industrial materials––often poetic and gracefully formed and at times boldly colored––that hang in an uncanny, perfect balance. His complex assemblage Cirque Calder (1926–31), which allowed for the artist’s manipulation of its various characters presented before an audience, predated Performance Art by some 40 years. Later in his career, Calder devoted himself to making outdoor monumental sculptures in bolted sheet steel that continue to grace public plazas in cities throughout the world.
"Gesicht" 1958, 1958
Ceramic Plate - Scène d'intérieur, from Le Satiricon
Ceramic Plate - 'Les Trois garçons à l'écharpe jaune'
Ceramic Plate - 'Le Mêlée des trois garçons' from Le Satiricon
Ceramic Plate - 'L’Apres Midi D’un Faune'
Ceramic Plate - Danseuse et Musiciens from Danses antiques, 1958
A highly influential mid-century American artist, Richard Diebenkorn is known for his abstract landscape paintings, in particular the "Ocean Park" series, which he exhibited when representing America at the 1978 Venice Biennale. Diebenkorn’s work is often highly gestural and layered, his use of the medium comparable to that of contemporaries like the Abstract Expressionist Willem de Kooning, an artist he greatly admired. Diebenkorn, however, preferred California to the competitive New York art scene, and became a leading artist among the Bay Area Figurative painters. Even at its most abstract, Diebenkorn’s work remains rooted in the outside world, and he is celebrated for capturing his surroundings on canvas without representing them literally. Moving between New Mexico, Illinois, and, ultimately, California, his work progresses in tune with the changing architecture and landscape. Diebenkorn also painted portraits, expertly combining figurative and abstract styles in the same picture.
A second-generation Abstract Expressionist painter, Helen Frankenthaler became active in the New York School of the 1950s, initially influenced by artists like Arshile Gorky, Willem de Kooning, and Jackson Pollock. She gained fame with her invention of the color-stain technique—applying thin washes of paint to unprimed canvas—in her iconic Mountains and Sea (1952), a motivating work for Morris Louis, Kenneth Noland, and other Color Field painters who emerged in the ’60s. Her own canvases, however, often evoked elements of landscape or figuration in the shaping of their forms. “My pictures are full of climates, abstract climates,” she once said. “They're not nature per se, but a feeling.” From 1958 to 1971, she was married to fellow Abstract Expressionist Robert Motherwell, who, like Frankenthaler, worked in symbolic painted gestures—only her paintings were almost always visibly improvised from start to finish. As poet and critic Frank O’Hara wrote in 1960, “she is willing to risk everything on inspiration.” In addition to painting, Frankenthaler also made ceramics, welded steel sculptures, and set designs, but the related medium that most attracted her, and in which her achievement came the closest painting, was printmaking—especially the creation of woodcuts, hers counting among the greatest of contemporary works in that medium.
Bridging the gap between the art world and the street, Keith Haring rose to prominence in the early 1980s with his graffiti drawings made in the subways and on the sidewalks of New York City. Combining the appeal of cartoons with the raw energy of Art Brut artists like Jean DuBuffet, Haring developed a distinct pop-graffiti aesthetic centered on fluid, bold outlines against a dense, rhythmic overspread of imagery like that of babies, barking dogs, flying saucers, hearts, and Mickey Mouse. In his subway drawings and murals, Haring explored themes of exploitation, subjugation, drug abuse, and rising fears of nuclear holocaust, which became increasingly apocalyptic after his AIDS diagnosis. Alongside Jean-Michel Basquiat, Kenny Scharf, and Jenny Holzer, Haring is regarded as a leading figure in New York East Village Art scene in the 1970s and '80s.
A pioneer of the British Pop Art movement in the early 1960s alongside Richard Hamilton, David Hockney gained recognition for his semi-abstract paintings on the theme of homosexual love before it was decriminalized in England in 1967. In We Two Boys Clinging Together (1961), red-painted couples embrace one other while floating amidst fragments from a Walt Whitman poem. After moving to California at the end of 1963, Hockney began painting scenes of the sensual and uninhibited life of athletic young men, depicting swimming pools, palm trees, and perpetual sunshine. Experimenting with photography in the mid-1970s, Hockney went on to create his famous photocollages with Polaroids and snapshot prints arranged in a grid formation, pushing the two-dimensionality of photography to the limit, fragmenting the monocular vision of the camera and activating the viewer in the process. A versatile artist, Hockney has produced work in almost every medium—including full-scale opera set designs, prints, and drawings using cutting-edge technology such as fax machines, laser photocopiers, computers, and even iPhones and iPads.
Working exclusively in portraiture, Kehinde Wiley fuses traditional formats and motifs with modern modes of representation. Selecting works from old masters like Peter Paul Rubens or Jacques-Louis David, Wiley replaces the historical figures with handsome young black men. In his related, ongoing “World Stage” series, Wiley’s heroic figures are depicted in front of colorful background patterns that make specific reference to textiles and decorative patterns of various cultures, from 19th-century Judaica paper cutouts to Martha Stewart’s interior color swatches. Wiley’s penchant for jarring juxtapositions stems from his desire to complicate notions of group identity. “How do we…go beyond the media stereotypes about national identity?” he has said. “I don't really think about myself as a young gay black American, nor do I interface with my Brazilian or Mexican or Jewish friends that way.”
Tom Wesselmann is considered one of the major artists of New York Pop Art, along with Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol. Best known for his 1960s series “Great American Nude,” which featured flat figures in an intense palette of red, white, blue, and other patriotic colors, Wesselmann, in an effort to reject Abstract Expressionism, made collages and assemblages that incorporated everyday objects and advertising ephemera. In the early 1980s, he produced his first "Metal Works,” in which he shaped canvases and cut metal to create abstract three-dimensional images. In his final years, Wesselmann returned to the female form in the “Sunset Nudes” series, where the compositions, abstract imagery, and sanguine moods recall the odalisques of Henri Matisse.
Frank Stella, an iconic figure of postwar American art, is considered the most influential painter of a generation that moved beyond Abstract Expressionism toward Minimalism. In his early work, Stella attempted to drain any external meaning or symbolism from painting, reducing his images to geometric form and eliminating illusionistic effects. His goal was to make paintings in which pictorial force came from materiality, not from symbolic meaning. He famously quipped, “What you see is what you see,” a statement that became the unofficial credo of Minimalist practice. In the 1980s and '90s, Stella turned away from Minimalism, adopting a more additive approach for a series of twisting, monumental, polychromatic metal wall reliefs and sculptures based on Herman Melville’s Moby Dick.
Despite being credited with a Pop sensibility, Ed Ruscha defies categorization with his diverse output of photographic books and tongue-in-cheek photo-collages, paintings, and drawings. Ruscha’s work is inspired by the ironies and idiosyncrasies of life in Los Angeles, which he often conveys by placing glib words and phrases from colloquial and consumerist usage atop photographic images or fields of color. Known for painting and drawing with unusual materials such as gunpowder, blood, and Pepto Bismol, Ruscha draws attention to the deterioration of language and the pervasive cliches in pop culture, illustrated by his iconic 1979 painting I Don’t Want No Retro Spective. “You see this badly done on purpose, but the badly-done-on-purpose thing was done so well that it just becomes, let’s say, profound,” he once said. Equally renowned were his photographic books, in which he transferred the deadpan Pop style into series of images of LA—apartments, palm trees, or Twentysix Gasoline Stations (1962), his most famous work.
Ed Ruscha and Ken Price, 'Flies and Frog' 1969 Print, 1969
'If' Lithograph, 2000
'Miracle' Lithograph, 1999
, 'Nine Swimming Pools' Print 1970
, 'Raw' 1971 Print
'Then and Now (Portfolio)' 2005 Print
Leading Pop artist James Rosenquist—who came to prominence among New York School figures like Roy Lichtenstein, Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, and Willem de Kooning—is well known for his large-scale, fragmented works that bring the visual language of commercial painting onto canvas (notably, from 1957-60, Rosenquist earned his living as a billboard painter). In his use of mass-produced goods and vernacular culture rendered in an anonymous style, Rosenquist's work recalls that of Andy Warhol, while his seemingly irrational, mysterious pictorial combinations owe a debt to Surrealism. His breakthrough work, the iconic F-111 (1965)—51 panels that total over 22 by 24 feet—juxtaposes an American fighter plane with a Firestone tire, garish orange tinned spaghetti, and a young girl under a hair dryer.
“I am for an art that is political-erotical-mystical, that does something more than sit on its ass in a museum,” wrote Claes Oldenburg in his seminal 1961 manifesto I Am For An Art. From his Happenings beginning in the 1960s, to his enormous public sculptures of ice cream and rubber stamps, to his collaboration with his wife Coosje van Bruggen, Oldenburg has remained at the forefront of the Conceptual and Pop art movements. He has worked in a variety of mediums including performance, drawing, and writing, though he is best known for his large glossy or soft sculptures of ordinary consumer items, such as Lipstick (Ascending) on Caterpillar Tracks (1969-74). Some of Oldenburg’s most radical works remain in the realm of concept, as in his proposal for Thames Ball (1967)—a giant toilet tank ball that would have floated on the Thames River. “I am for an art that grows up not knowing it is art at all,” he wrote. “I am for an artist who vanishes.”
Alongside Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, and Willem de Kooning, Robert Motherwell is considered one of the great American Abstract Expressionist painters. His esteemed intellect not only undergirded his gorgeous, expressive paintings—frequently featuring bold black shapes against fields of color—but also made Motherwell one of the leading writers, theorists, and advocates of the New York School. He forged close friendships with the European Surrealists and other intellectuals over his interests in poetry and philosophy, and as such served as a vital link between the pre-war avant-garde in Europe and its post-war counterpart in New York, establishing automatism and psychoanalysis as central concerns of American abstraction. "It's not that the creative act and the critical act are simultaneous," Motherwell said. "It's more like you blurt something out and then analyze it.
When American Pop artist Roy Lichtenstein painted Look Mickey in 1961, it set the tone for his career. This primary-color portrait of the cartoon mouse introduced Lichtenstein’s detached and deadpan style at a time when introspective Abstract Expressionism reigned. Mining material from advertisements, comics, and the everyday, Lichtenstein brought what was then a great taboo—commercial art—into the gallery. He stressed the artificiality of his images by painting them as though they’d come from a commercial press, with the flat, single-color Ben-Day dots of the newspaper meticulously rendered by hand using paint and stencils. Later in his career, Lichtenstein extended his source material to art history, including the work of Claude Monet and Pablo Picasso, and experimented with three-dimensional works. Lichtenstein’s use of appropriated imagery has influenced artists such as Richard Prince, Jeff Koons, and Raymond Pettibon.
Still Life with Red Jar C. 291; G. 1621)
Modern Head #5
'Pyramids' Lithograph, 1969
'Figures (From Surrealist Series)' 1978 Print
Roy Lichtenstein 'Still Life with Table Lamp' 1988 Screenprint
Jeff Koons plays with ideas of taste, pleasure, celebrity, and commerce. “I believe in advertisement and media completely,” he says. “My art and my personal life are based in it.” Working with seductive commercial materials (such as the high chromium stainless steel of his “Balloon Dog” sculptures or his vinyl “Inflatables”), shifts of scale, and an elaborate studio system involving many technicians, Koons turns banal objects into high art icons. His paintings and sculptures borrow widely from art-historical techniques and styles; although often seen as ironic or tongue-in-cheek, Koons insists his practice is earnest and optimistic. “I’ve always loved Surrealism and Dada and Pop, so I just follow my interests and focus on them,” he says. “When you do that, things become very metaphysical.” The “Banality” series that brought him fame in the 1980s included pseudo-Baroque sculptures of subjects like Michael Jackson with his pet ape, while his monumental topiaries, like the floral Puppy (1992), reference 17th-century French garden design.
Balloon Rabbit (Red) 2017, 2017
Balloon Rabbit, Balloon Swan, Balloon Monkey - Matching Set
Balloon Rabbit, Balloon Swan, Balloon Monkey
Balloon Rabbit (Violet) 2019
Balloon Rabbit (Red) 2019
Balloon Monkey (Blue) 2019
Since the beginning of his career, Ellsworth Kelly's emphasis on pure form and color and his impulse to suppress gesture in favor of creating spatial unity have played a pivotal role in the development of abstract art in America. A major influence on Pop Art, Minimalism, hard-edge and color field painting, Ellsworth Kelly’s best-known works are distinguished by sharply delineated shapes flatly painted in vivid color, such as Colors for a Large Wall (1951). His abstract paintings are inspired by the interplay of light, space, and color in the architecture around him. In contrast, Kelly’s automatic drawings feature delicate outlines of bodies and flora.
KAWS is a multi-faceted artist straddling the worlds of art and design in his prolific body of work that ranges from paintings, murals, and large-scale sculptures to product design and toy-making. His iconic “XX” signature has its roots in the beginning of his career as a street artist in the 1990s, when he began altering found advertisements by incorporating his own masterful paintings. Evoking the sensibilities of Pop artists like Andy Warhol and Claes Oldenburg, KAWS possesses a sophisticated humor and thoughtful interplay with consumer products and collaborations with global brands. He often draws inspiration and appropriates from popular culture animations to form a unique artistic vocabulary and influential cast of hybrid cartoon and human characters.
New York School painter Alex Katz developed his highly stylized aesthetic in reaction to 1950s Abstract Expressionism, finding his own distinctive resolution between formalism and representation. His brightly colored figurative and landscape paintings are rendered in a flat style that takes cues from everyday visual culture like advertising and cinema, in many ways anticipating both the formal and conceptual concerns of Pop Art. Well known for his many portraits of his wife and muse, Ada, Katz has also dedicated himself to printmaking and freestanding sculptures of cutout figures painted on wood or aluminum.
'Poppy' 1968 Print, 1968
'Julia and Alexandra' 1983 Print, 1983
'Caroline' Lithograph on Arches Paper 1977
, Lithograph 'Homage to Frank O'Hara: William Dunas', 1972
, 'December (Ada)' 2020 Print
'Laura 5' 2018 Print
One of the central figures of the Pop Art movement, Robert Indiana takes his inspiration from commercial signs, claiming: “There are more signs than trees in America. There are more signs than leaves. So I think of myself as a painter of American landscape.” In his paintings, sculptures, and prints, he mimics and re-arranges the words and numbers of a myriad of signs, including the Phillips 66 gas station logo and the “Yield” traffic sign. He is most famous for his “LOVE” paintings and sculptures, first produced in the 1960s. Creating a block out of the word—with the “L” and the “O” set atop the “V” and the “E”—Indiana has effectively inserted his own sign into the mix.