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Key Points

Here are the key takeaways about Pop art in the US, UK, and around the world -- and a few questions to get you thinking even more about Pop art.
In this tutorial, we have traced the trajectory of Pop art from the US to the UK and around the world, revealing the unique ways in which it has reflected and engaged with varied cultures.
In its most familiar guise, Pop art in the US emerged in the 1950s and '60s, taking inspiration from sources in popular and commercial culture such as advertising, Hollywood movies and music. Drawing on popular imagery and mass-produced consumer products, Pop art held up a mirror to American culture at the time. Pop artist Roy Lichtenstein once said of his work: "The things I have parodied, I really admire." How could that be? How do you think art can celebrate and critique something at once?
Pop art in the UK, on the other hand, was fuelled by American culture viewed from a distance. It employed irony and parody in order to focus more on what American popular imagery represented, and its power in manipulating people’s lifestyles. Artists like Peter Blake and David Hockney created images of their own engagement with American pop culture, while Patrick Caulfield painted everyday objects through a simplified lens. In doing so, he invites us consider the following question (much in the same way Andy Warhol's soup cans do, too): Can a simple drawing of an everyday object still be a great work of art, and even make you see the world in a different way?
And finally, we saw that Pop art was a truly global phenomenon, engaging artists across Europe, Latin America, the Middle East and Asia. In radically changing social and political climates, artists were uniquely placed to critique their world using humour, sex and innovation to provoke, parody and reflect. Sigmar Polke spoke to the beginnings of consumer society in West Germany, while artists like Nicola L and Niki de Saint Phalle used Pop art as a tool to explore disrupt notions of the body and identity. What other ideas do you think Pop art could critique?

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