The Art of America Homeschool Unit Study: The Art of the Cold War YearsEva Varga
By the end of WWII, the center of the Western art world had shifted from Paris to New York. While abstract expressionists (detailed in my earlier post) sought to express strong emotions in an abstract fashion, artists of the Cold War years turned to popular culture for inspiration.
Pop Art (1950s and 60s)
Pop art first emerged in the mid-1950s in Britain and the late 1950s in the United States, influenced by the nation’s movement into a more modern age. Pop art presented a challenge to fine art traditions by including imagery from popular culture such as advertising and news. In pop art, material is sometimes visually removed from its known context, isolated, and/or combined with unrelated material.
Andy Warhol (1928-1987) works explore the relationship between artistic expression, celebrity culture, and advertising that flourished by the 1960s. His art used many types of media, including hand drawing, painting, printmaking, photography, silk screening, sculpture, film, and music.
The Andy Warhol Museum has a collection of resources and lesson plans inspired by his life’s work. Take time to browse their collection by theme or by a specific title.
Roy Lichtenstein (1923-1997) was born in New York and studied art at Ohio State University. Inspired by the comic strip, his work defined the premise of pop art through parody.
Photograph students creatively posing with a popular object of their choosing. Working from this photo, and using primary colors and dramatic text bubbles, students should create a Lichtenstein inspired self-portrait.
Jasper Johns (b. 1930) is an American painter, sculptor and printmaker associated with Abstract expressionism and Conceptual art, in addition to Pop Art. His interest in process led to innovations in lithography, screen-printing, etching and woodblock, using such materials as pencil, pen, brush, crayon, wax, and plaster to constantly challenge the technical possibilities of printmaking.
Robert Rauschenberg (1925-2008) was an American painter and graphic artist whose early works anticipated the pop art movement. A prolific innovator of techniques and mediums, he used unconventional art materials ranging from dirt and house paint to umbrellas and car tires.
Neo-Conceptualism and Neo-Expressionism (1980s and 90s)
The 1980s was a decade of growth, both for the global economic system and for the art world. Artistic strategies can be slotted into two primary positions:
- Neo-Conceptualism, which grew from Minimalism and Conceptualism to embrace techniques of photography and appropriation; and
- Neo-Expressionism, a style of painting and sculpture that is characterized by a return to figuration in expressive, gestural, and sometimes brashly aggressive works.
Julian Schnabel (b. 1951) is a Neo-expressionist artist and filmmaker whose large-scale paintings are materially and thematically monumental, drawing on a wealth of influences from Cubism and themes such as sexuality, obsession, suffering, redemption, death, and belief. Crowded with paint drips, dynamic brushstrokes, and found materials including broken plates, textiles, tarpaulins, and velvet, many of Schnabel’s paintings combine painting and collage techniques.
David Salle (b. 1952) is well known for his large-scale canvases featuring a sparse, seemingly disjunctive arrangement of elements. He combines Pop art and Surrealist imagery to create collage-like paintings that often gather widely different moods and styles.
The Art of America Homeschool Unit Studies
This post is part of a 10-post series, providing an overview of the history of American art from Pre-Colonial times to today, including multiple art forms:
- wood carvings
- editorial cartoons
Moving chronologically through All American History curriculum, each post summarizes the art trends and movements popular during the period and features one or two artists from that time period. Plus I will provide a related art lesson or project that you can enjoy with your students.
- First Nations People
- Colonial Art
- The Hudson River School
- The Civil War & Reconstruction
- The Gilded Age & American Impressionism
- The Early Twentieth Century – Cubism
- The Early Twentieth Century – Precisionism
- The Art of the Great Depression
- The Art of the Mid-Twentieth Century – Abstract Expressionism
- The Art of the Cold War Years (this post)