Student Research Projects

Pop Artists: Response to Commercialism, Consumerism, and Politics of the 1960s

Student Jaquelyn Gabaldon ‘17
Faculty Mentor(s)
Department Art History
Course Art History 232: Art History: Renaissance to 20th Century


My research investigates how three Pop artists (Warhol, Lichtenstein, Rosenquist) represented the US political, commercial, and consumer culture of the 1960s through their artwork. I investigate if the artists’ works were innovative in respect to art history prior to the 1960s. I trace the root of each artist’s source of inspiration, using an art history approach, which analyzes the content, visual form, and social milieu of the era to find deeper connections to consumerism, US politics, and commercialism. My conclusion is that the artists used found objects, and more specifically, found products of the 1950s and 60s to visually explain that these objects were no longer just “things,” but consumer products and brands that reflected the mass culture of the time. This proved to be the movement’s innovation because it was unlike any other art prior to this era. Previously, artists used a mimetic approach that involved creating an artwork to represent a certain theme, such as in genre paintings. Pop artists were unique due to the fact that they used pre-existing items and borrowed products for their art to show a common theme. They represented their era by turning things into brands and people into products.