Classic American Style: Pop Art!

Classic American Style: Pop Art!

Adrienne Breaux
Jul 5, 2011

Of all the defining style movements that have left their mark on America, surely none is more fun than the Pop movement that shot across the country in the 1950s and 1960s. Indelibly tied to the art movement of the same name that happened in that time period, you can still see homes today sporting this popular, personality-filled and brightly-colored style.

Started in the 1950s and 1960s primarily in America and Britain, the Pop Art movement was a response to the cerebral and abstract movements that had come before it, like abstract expressionalism. Its use of images from popular (where the "Pop" comes from) culture is one of its main hallmarks; the late 1950s and 1960s also saw a strong explosion of creativity in the world of advertising, having a big influence on Pop Art. Pop Art interiors are usually bold, brightly-colored and even aggressive to the eye.

Another huge role in the Pop movement, and subsequently for interiors, was new and exciting manufacturing methods and materials, like plastic and acrylic. Furniture designers from all over the world were directly and indirectly influenced (or perhaps even influencing) by Pop Art, and many of the iconic furniture pieces from the 1960s, though maybe not specifically designed for Pop Art interiors, still fit the aesthetic. Verner Panton, Arne Jacobsen and even some of George Nelson's later pieces (his 1970s Marshmallow Sofa in particular) remind us of this great movement.

Defining qualities:

    • Bold, bright colors
    • The use of new manufacturing techniques and materials like plastic and acrylic
    • Images from popular culture and advertising (lots of products and labels)
    • A strong, graphic emphasis — inspiration from graphic novels
    • An irreverent, not-so-serious, tongue-in-cheek aesthetic

American Pop artists of note:

    • Robert Rauschenberg
    • Roy Lichtenstein
    • Tom Wesselmann
    • Jasper Johns
    • Andy Warhol
    • Claes Oldenburg

How you can add a little Pop Art in your home:

    • Splash bold colors
    • Invest in adventurous, shapely or even odd furniture
    • Include lots of images from pop culture — you don't have to buy a Warhol original, in fact you'd create a truly modern space by interpreting what sort of popular images would be popular today
    • Don't be afraid to be a little adventurous with your art
    • Don't be afraid to be funny with your accessories and your interiors as a whole.
    • In other words: don't take your décor too seriously!

Pop Art Inspired Apartment Before and After Makeover
Julia Chiang's Delicious Ring Pop Art
The Big Reveal! Barney's Pop Art Loft
Benjamen's DIY Pop Art

What do you think about the style of art and interiors known as Pop? Do you think it still has relevance today? Have you incorporated any of its defining qualities in your own interiors? Share your thoughts in the comments...

Images – 1: KNQ Associates; 2: TrendLand, Ohwow; 3: Jasper Johns' Wikipedia page, Fair Use; 4,5: Benjamen; 8,10: Jim Franco; 9: Roy Lichtenstein's WIkipedia page, Fair Use

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