A decade after World War II, a new culture was emerging, one in which waves of products targeted at a growing class of consumers were advertised on TV, in magazines and newspapers, and on larger-than-life billboards. Artists around the world were inspired by this explosion of mass media and began to use it as source material, repurposing commercial images and depicting familiar subjects, from everyday objects to the stars and stories that populated the front page. Yet there was no single approach: artists both celebrated and criticized the era’s surge of consumerism. In 1957, the British artist Richard Hamilton tried to summarize these new tendencies by coining the term “Pop Art,” describing it to friends as “Popular (designed for a mass audience), Transient (short-term solution), Expendable (easily forgotten), Low cost, Mass produced, Young (aimed at youth), Witty, Sexy, Gimmicky, Glamorous, Big Business.”
Organized by Sarah Suzuki, Associate Director, with Hillary Reder and Ana Torok, Curatorial Assistants, Department of Drawings and Prints.