For every major star Pop Artist that the whole world knows, like Warhol, or Lichtenstein, or Hockney, there are many more who made important contributions but get seen comparitively little outside of art world circles and art galleries. Below are four more outstanding artists from the Pop Art period, and beyond; though the movement is often seen as over, it’s influences still linger in the work of many contemporary artists.
Hariton Pushwagner; graphic novelist and consumerism cartoonist
In many ways a recently discovered artist, Norwegian Pushwagner struggled to find his style for years before settling on a cartoonish, simple lined and brightly coloured approach that portrayed the extremes of consumerist society in a style familiar to dystopian fiction, or Fritz Lang’s film Metropolis.
The lives of his characters follow a recurrent schedule of wake, work, shop, sleep in a skyscrapered city broken up only by mega malls draped in brightly coloured, coercive advertising and tabloid news headlines. Besides his individual works, he also put together the graphic novel Soft City, which was lost for many years then rediscovered and published to acclaim in 2008, bringing all of his work into much wider awareness as an important part of Pop Art’s explorations of consumerism, “low” art forms, and mass produced artwork.
Billy Apple; graphic design and light as Pop Art
A pivotal part of the Pop Art movement, New Zealander Apple never attained quite as much popular fame as his contemporaries, even though he was very much there as it started to gain wider attention. Billy Apple was something of a creation; a created name and image befitting a Pop Artist, and within a year he had enjoyed his first solo art gallery show, and a year later was included in the pivotal American Supermarket exhibition alongside Warhol, Oldenburg, Johns, Wesselmann, Rosenquist and others.
His work went on to explore neon and light sculptures and the economics of the art world, often playing with a highly commercial graphic style and strong typography; he enjoyed exhibitions and tours around the world, and created the alternative exhibition space Apple, which hosted work by Jerry Vis, Larry Miller, Mac Adams, and Geoff Hendricks. In his later life he was widely acknowledged for his contribution to art with major retrospectives and honours from his native New Zealand.
Yayoi Kusama; sharing a colourful polka dot vision which runs deep
An increasing rarity, Kusama is a still living Pop Artist, born in Japan and trained in the traditional nihonga style, she found herself inspired by the Abstract Expressionism developing in the US and relocated to New York in the late 1950s, becoming part of the growing Pop Art and avant garde scenes.
Working extensively with bright colours and polka dot patterns her artworks have included paintings, performance art, fashion, poetry, video art and installations. She has explored themes like feminism, mental health, sexuality, and psychology, touching on styles including minimalism, surrealism, and Art Brut, and is often identified as one of the most important artists to come out of Japan. Perhaps most core to her work is an effort to let the viewer understand how she often sees and feels the world around her; there is obsession, repetition, and loneliness, laid out for her audience to feel and exist within, even if only for a short period of time.
George Condo; the artificial realist Pop Artist
Another still living artist, American Condo found his way into the art scene in the late 1970s alongside artists like Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring, emerging through the East Village scene of the 1980s. He birthed the name of Artificial Realism; realistic depictions of things which are artificial, creating artworks with the style of an Old Master but the sensibilities of Pop Art.
His career took him through collaborations with creative artists like Warhol and William Burroughs, and inspired many writers including Burroughs, Donald Kuspit and Salman Rushdie, whilst his style has touched on rethinking other movements, such as the pieces he describes as Psychological Cubism; he continues to work today on paintings, sculpture, and prints.