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7 Colorful Masterpieces That Define the Pop Art Movement

Robert Raucshenberg, Retroactive II (1964)

Renowned for his unique approach to materials, Robert Rauschenberg contributed to the Pop Art movement with his Combines and collages. One particularly memorable pop culture-inspired piece is Retroactive II, a silkscreen painting created in 1964.

Reminiscent of a collage, Retroactive II features important imagery from the period, including a portrait of John F. Kennedy and a NASA astronaut. In addition to this current events-inspired iconography, the piece's busy composition, photographic inspiration, and artificial color palette perfectly capture the Pop Art aesthetic.


David Hockney, A Bigger Splash (1967)

In the second half of the 1960s, British artist David Hockney revisited a unique subject in his popular culture-inspired paintings: the swimming pool. Inspired by a trip to California, he enjoyed the clean lines, modern aesthetic, and suburban popularity of the fixtures.

In the spring of 1967, he completed his most well-known pool painting: A Bigger Splash. Featuring only a modernist home, a folding chair, and 2 palm trees in the background, the piece's focal point is the pool. A simplistic diving board hovers above the sleek surface of the water, which is obstructed by a splash. This subject matter, along with the color palette and graphic aesthetic of the composition, evoke the interests explored by Hockey and his fellow Pop artists during the period.


Claes Oldenburg Coosje van Bruggen, Spoonbridge and Cherry (1985-1988)

Pop Art pair Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen are celebrated for their oversized outdoor sculptures. Among their most famous work is Spoonbridge and Cherry, a (much) larger-than-life depiction of a shiny red cherry balancing on the bowl of a stylized spoon.

Located in the Walker Art Center’s Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, this sculpture puts an artistic twist on seemingly ordinary objects. By playing with scale and choosing such simple subjects, Oldenburg and van Bruggen turn mass-produced objects into a quirky work of art.


Keith Haring, Ignorance = Fear (1989)

What is Pop Art Movement

Photo: Keith Haring Foundation

Keith Haring was an American artist and social activist renowned for his colorful contributions to New York City's 1980s street culture. He combined Pop Art with graffiti, making the former even more accessible—and unavoidable—to the public.

One piece that captures his activist-inspired approach to art is Ignorance = Fear, a poster produced in 1989. Haring designed and created this poster for the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP), an organization based in New York. By modernizing the age-old mantra of “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil,” Haring comments on the dangers of silence during the AIDS epidemic. Though serious in subject matter, the poster is rendered in bold tones and a graphic aesthetic, proving the adaptability and endless possibilties of Pop Art.

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Kelly Richman-Abdou

Kelly Richman-Abdou is a Contributing Writer at My Modern Met. An art historian living in Paris, Kelly was born and raised in San Francisco and holds a BA in Art History from the University of San Francisco and an MA in Art and Museum Studies from Georgetown University. When she’s not writing, you can find Kelly wandering around Paris, whether she’s leading a tour (as a guide, she has been interviewed by BBC World News America and France 24) or simply taking a stroll with her husband and two tiny daughters.
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