Understanding Popular Icon’s Influences on Modern Art

Popular culture has been at the root of visual art for decades. Visual art, over the past 30 years, has evolved from something that distinguishes classes of people to something that brings different people together. Music and visual art has been married in the hip hop world ever since Michael Jackson’s iconic ‘Thriller’ Music video. Now every single has corresponding cover art and a simulating music video. Graffiti, graphic design and photography have taken over the urban art community.

But the history of the marriage between more traditional art and current popular culture is not new. This entered the art world for the first time in the early 1960’s with the Pop Art movement. The leaders of this movement are Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein and James Rosenquist. More academically thought of as Post-Abstract expressionist, this art birthed what is today’s art.

By creating paintings or sculptures of mass culture objects and media stars, the Pop art movement blurred the boundaries between “high” art and “low” culture. The concept that there is no hierarchy of culture and that art may borrow from any source has been one of the most influential characteristics of Pop art.

Dave Pollot, David Rendon, and David Murray are bringing that connection between popular culture and visual art back to the forefront. Each in unique and interesting ways. This is in addition to the eye opening work of Amit Shimoni, Alex Solis, and Machonis.


David Rendon

French artist David Rendon celebrated traditional American ads by splashing modern day pop stars over them. Through their music, the likes of Kanye West, Beyoncé, Michael Jackson, and Outkast have grown to become worldwide symbols of American pop culture. This is a stark contrast from the past, where fictional icons and domestic brands – Rosie the Riveter, Uncle Sam, Palmolive – were all but cultural ambassadors for the U.S. Rendon’s advertisement present contemporary pop culture symbols across a series of boldly-colored illustrated posters.

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Dave Pollet

Thrift store paintings are either something you buy or something you don’t. Artist Dave Pollot is one of those people that does buy them. He also puts his own twist into them by incorporating pop culture icons in the middle of landscapes and older works. Pollot’s figures range from the Millennium Falcon, to Harry Potter and Ron Weasley in the flying Ford Anglia, to Optimus Prime.

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David Murray

Perhaps the most hypebeast worthy artist of our list, David Murray makes culture icons dress like streetwear enthusiasts. Murray illustrates from Batman to Biggie and 2Pac rocking select pieces from recent YEEZY, Vetements, Givenchy, Juun.J and Maison Margiela collections.


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Jelani Arthur Williamson

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