Thirty-five years ago artists such as Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, and James Rosenquist on the East Coast counted among their leading West Coast Pop counterparts Mel Ramos. All worked with imagery garnered from popular culture and the mass media. Comic book heroes, movie stars, and advertising served as the iconoclastic subject matter of these then radical figurative painters.
Pop Art values were directly oppositional to all that had been held sacred to the high art of the 1940’s and 50’s, when Abstract Expressionism was king. Instead of abstraction, there was figuration; instead of deeply crusted, heavily worked surfaces, there were crisp, hard edges and flat, unmodulated color; instead of angst there was ironic detachment.
Art history itself became subject matter, as Pop artists made “Art about Art,” art that was self-referential.