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Andy Warhol-Stockholm -1968Warhol in Words: Poetic Pop Art
Once you “got” Pop, you could never see a sign the same way again.
I like boring things.
Pop art emerged in Britain in the early 1950’s and developed to a new level in America in the second half of the decade. Influenced by the cultural trends of mass production and commercialism, pop art focuses the artists’ efforts on the mundane and, as the name suggests, the popular cultural icons of the era. Think of Andy Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup Cans or Marilyn Monroe’s. A response to non-representational art such as abstract expressionism, pop art explores simple reality in detail.
Some have referred to pop art as the “democratization of art,” as its proponents “manufactured” art in such a way as to make it available to rich and poor alike, using techniques such as comic books, silk screen or print-making. A number of artists involved in the movement began their careers as graphic artists, working in the advertising sector.
In addition to Warhol, whose name is almost synonymous with the movement, other notable pop artists include Jasper Johns, Kurt Schwitters, Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Rauschenberg and Claes Oldenburg.
Characteristics of the work done by pop artists include clean lines and the use of bright colors, images that are fun and whimsical, realistic representations and work that is, for the most part, apolitical. Pop artists often used shape and repetition to get their point across. For example, Warhol’s Marilyn Series used the same photo of the star rendered in different colors to create different moods.
Ted Kooser, a former poet laureate of the United States, gives ideas about how poets can simulate pop art in his wonderful book, The Poetry Home Repair Manual: Practical Advice for Beginning Poets. He reminds us to avoid elitism by writing poetry that is accessible to our readers and to do this by having in mind an imaginary reader. While it is true that we can, and do write poetry for ourselves, Kooser believes that the role of the poet is also one of service to others—in other words, to make poetry available and pleasing to “the masses.”
And so, for today’s prompt, let’s enter the world of Pop art. Here are a few ways you may choose to do that:
• Chose a cultural phenomenon, a product, an icon/idol or mass medium as the subject of your poem.
• Write about an artist of the Pop Art Movement. There is an extensive list available on Wikipedia, as well as a wealth of information about pop art: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pop_Art
• Write an ekphrasis using a work of pop art.
• Browse a grocery store or mall, looking for art in the ordinary and use that for inspiration. Art is all around us.
• Create a poetic “time capsule,” a chronicle of the age and culture in which we live.
• Use repetition or shape to make your point.
When something happens to catch your attention, and you feel like making a note of it, you can usually trust your impulse. There may well be something there worth writing about.
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Guest hosting for dVerse Poetics, I’m Victoria Ceretto-Slotto (http://liv2write2day.wordpress.com). I’m looking forward to seeing you at the Pub.