Pop Art (Art & Ideas)


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Bradford Collins

Softcover | 16.5 x 2.5 x 22.2 cm | 448 pp | 250 illustrations

Phaidon Press | 2012 | 9780714862439

The Art & Ideas series studies history’s most important artists and art movements by examining the broader cultural and political landscape that shaped them.

A clear and engaging survey of Pop art, from its origins in the late 1950s to its ongoing incarnations today.

This book presents the most important works of the movement, as well as explaining in what sense Pop was, and still is, a movement. Several unjustly neglected women artists are brought to the fore and the meaning of Pop’s revolution is examined through the decades, across Europe and the US. Crucial for the artworks explored, the source materials of consumer culture and popular entertainment are also illustrated and Collins shows how they were used by artists to make their works. Indeed, the relationship between popular culture and Pop Art is explored from all angles, discussing its interpretation as critique or celebration of consumerism, mass production and contemporary graphic art; whether Pop is simply another manifestation of popular culture or subversive criticism of it.

Here Collins argues that although the focus of much Pop art was popular culture, some of the artists’ responses were critical, some complicit and some ambiguous. And Pop artists also dealt with an extraordinary range of other individual, artistic and historical issues – from sex, love and death to aesthetics, from the Civil Rights Movement and the Vietnam War to feminism. Pop art was more of a mode, a way of making art than a movement in the narrow, strictest sense, and here Collins shows how artists were not constrained by shared values, as previous movements, but free of a heterogenity that has since been assumed. Pop was a watershed development in modern art because it represents the moment when large numbers of artists acknowledged that the media imagery of mainstream capitalist culture, from advertising to comics to movies, had become, whether they liked it or not, the stuff of their consciousness. Whereas the artists of the Renaissance, for example, had been steeped in Classical history, mythology and the Bible, the artists of the modern era had been progressively schooled in the visual imagery of mass culture, which thus formed the chief substance of their own internal image banks. Rather than resist the flotsam and jetsam floating around inside their minds in search of some pure, uncontaminated language that might wash it away, as so many of their avant-garde forebears from Kandinsky to the Surrealists to the Colour Field painters had done, the Pop artists accepted it.

"There are numerous books that survey Pop art […] what does Collins’ book add to the existing discussion? It’s a brave move by any publisher, but, in fact, Collins’ text skilfully moves through the different eras of Pop starting with its early emergence in 1952 and finishing in 1990... Critically aware, this book offers a historical overview."—Aesthetica

On the Art & Ideas series

"Art & Ideas has broken new ground in making accessible authoritative views on periods, movements and concepts in art. As a series it represents a real advance in publishing."—Sir Nicholas Serota, Director, Tate London

"The format is wonderful and offers what had long been missing in academic studies: usable manuals for specific themes or periods... I am definitely not alone in welcoming Art & Ideas as a precious set of teaching tools."—Joachim Pissarro, Yale University

"Phaidon's series may prove to be the pick of the crop. It boasts expert but undogmatic texts and a wealth of illustrations."—The Sunday Telegraph


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