Obviously you would be surprised but pop art originated initially in England not in in the USA as it is believed. And actually its ideological guru and father wasn’t Andy Warhol. It sounds pretty strange really but it is true. For me pop art and Andy Warhol as well as studio 54 and the Factory are inseparable terms. And I got acquainted with the world of pop art through the works of Andy Warhol. But the story is a little bit different. Thus movements of so called pop art appeared for the first time in England in the very beginning of the 1950s. This art movement and its principles became popular among artists who were members of the Independent Group that was established in 1952 in London. English artists were inspired by the art and artistic statements of Marcel Duchamp and Kurt Schwitters. Marcel Duchamp was a remarkable artist indeed who made the whole world change attitude to ordinary things and events. Thus once he exhibited his famous a urinal named Fountain. By the way this piece of art was chosen and admitted as “the most influential artwork of the 20th century”. I’m not a big fan of art of readymades but nevertheless his impact is invaluable. Thus Marcel Duchamp brought into a mainstream art of mundanity and daily routine. The same did pop artists in Great Britain and in the USA as well. And in this case it is just impossible to ignore Andy Warhol and one of his favorite American objects of daily life that is Campbell’s Soup. As for Kurt Schwitters then he was famous for his collages also known as Merz Pictures and they were exactly the objects that inspired pop artists in England as well in the USA.
Discussing English pop art one should keep in mind name of Richard Hamilton, British artist who became famous worldwide as a founder of pop art in Great Britain. And one should remember his collage Just what is it that makes today’s homes so different, so appealing? that is supposed to be the first piece of pop art. This collage was executed in 1956 for the exhibition This Is Tomorrow held in London. It consists of pictures from different mainly American and British magazines and depicts modern living-room.
In contradiction to American pop art British pop artists weren’t interested pretty much in modernism, modernist design and architecture. Strangely enough they were captivated by American design of cars and obsolescent machines. And another trait that distinguishes British pop art from American is that British artist didn’t pay much attention to comics and advertisement. They were more interested in happenings and assemblages.
Due to some reasons but pop art gained its recognition in America in the 1960s. Nevertheless British variant of pop art is interesting not less than American. Thus English artists were more ironic and accepted American culture as powerful while American artists had absolutely different point of view on their own mass culture and traditions.