1950’s Art

Jackson Pollock artwork.

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Every decade spawns its own unique look and style, especially when it comes to art, in all types of forms. The 1950’s often get overshadowed by the succeeding 1960’s which is often seen as an entire era onto itself. The 50’s were an incredibly interesting time as well, having just seen the end of the 2nd World War, and America’s involvement in the Korean War. These battles and fear of communism definitely helped shape the decade in more ways than one.

Art in the 1950’s saw a change in the art scene, especially with the addition of popular culture’s influence in artist’s work. Let’s take a look at some of the decade’s art movements and most important artists, both visual as well as musical.

Abstract Expressionism
Although this movement can trace its roots back as early as the 1920’s and first was developed in America in the 1940’s, it really came into being and gained mainstream notoriety in the 1950’s.

With World War II leaving most European cities in terrible shape, especially to create art, this opened the door for American cities to step up and become a major player in the art scene. Three of the biggest names in the American Abstract Expressionism scene were Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, and Willem de Kooning. These artists turned the art world upside-down with their unconventional painting methods, and truly opened the door for the radical art movements on the 1960’s that were soon to follow.

Pop Art
Pop culture reared its head into the art world in the 1950’s, first in the United Kingdom with the Independent Group, and then in America. Two of the early pop culture influenced artists in the United Kingdom were Eduardo Paolozzi and Richard Hamilton. Both artists utilized collages the pulled from advertising and other pop culture imagery.

Across the pond, in America, artists like Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg were developing their own styles that would prove influential in their own right, leading to the American Pop Art of the 1960’s with the rise of artists like Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein.

Music in the 1950’s
It is impossible to discuss art in the 1950’s without mentioning the shift in music as well as the visual arts. This decade, more than any other, marked a cultural shift in music that had never been witnessed before. The early part of the decade saw a continuation of the big band and swing music as well as the crooners of the 1940’s, whereas the second half of the 1950’s saw the introduction of R&B and Rock and Roll, among other genres to inject themselves into the mainstream culture. Artists like Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly, Little Richard, and Bo Diddley made their mark on music, forever changing the landscape, and influencing future generations for years to come.

We would love to hear from you! Tell us about your favorite fifties artist and works. What makes it so important to the generations of today?

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