Contributed by Jennifer Pozz, Bedford City Schools, Bedford, OH
The visual arts are strongly influenced by music and pop art is no exception. The art is reflective of the music. It appears on the album covers and advertisements for concerts. The study of pop art and music allows students to understand connections between the arts while providing a creative way for students to enhance their understanding of the time period.
The student will be able to:
This lesson is appropriate for the middle or high school student. It would work well in an art or humanities class.
Two weeks, ten 45-minute class periods.
Copy of selected art works (slides or prints), selected music, lyrics, CD/tape player, paint (latex, acrylic or tempera), brushes, mixing trays, sponges, tarp, 3 pieces of canvas (tag board or a wall can be substituted for canvas), sink. Please note: a collage can achieve much the same result if there are budget and/or time constraints.
Pop art was a visual arts movement of the 1950s and 1960s which took imagery from mass culture. Some artists duplicated beer bottles, soup cans, comic strips, road signs, and similar objects in paintings, collages, and sculptures. Others incorporated the objects themselves into their paintings or sculpture, sometimes in startlingly modified form. Materials of modern technology, such as plastic, urethane foam, and acrylic paint, often figured prominently. One of the most important artistic movements of the 20th century, pop art note only influenced the work of subsequent artists but also had an impact on commercial, graphic and fashion design.
excerpted from Microsoft Encarta (1993 Microsoft Corp. and Funk & Wagnall’s Corp.)
Andy Warhol, the leader of the American pop art movement, made films and had a night club. In his art work, he used a printmaking technique which emphasized repetition. His art was detached and different from what people were used to seeing in art. He was indifferent to art traditions, which made his work controversial. His art dehumanizes the person by packaging, an impersonal technique.
Roy Lichtenstein created a comic strip imagery. He used a flat modeled color with a dot technique, which is very mechanical. He copied cheap color printing techniques, yet he painted them. He appeals to characteristics that are anti-aesthetic and emotionless.
James Rosenquist originally was a billboard painter and used a collage technique in his very large paintings. He creates a juxtaposition of fragmented forms.
Claus Oldenberg is a sculptor. His soft sculptures deny a sensual response from the viewer. He creates a synthetic ugliness with inappropriate materials and aggression of size.
Have the class brainstorm ideas, words, pictorial images that represent the psychedelic era and compile a list. Have the group agree on one main image that they will use for their mural. Draw (who the teacher?) image so that part of it is on each of the three sections of canvas. Separate the class into three groups. Each group will be responsible for one panel of the mural. The three panels will hang together when finished. Each group creates a pre-sketch for their panel. The sketch should include images and lettering reflective of the time period. The sketch is then transferred onto the canvas and painting begins. During the student production time play the rest of the CD from each of the groups (or the tape that is provided) that were used during the pop art presentation. Allow ample time for clean up each day.
The completed mural is the evaluation for this unit. The mural should be based on the following criteria:
“I Am the Walrus” recorded by The Beatles (Magical Mystery Tour, EMI Records Ltd., 1967), lyrics and music by John Lennon and Paul McCartney.
“Foxey Lady” recorded by Jimi Hendrix (Are You Experienced, A Yameta Production, 1967), lyrics and music by Jimi Hendrix.
“Twentieth Century Fox” recorded by The Doors (The Doors, Electra Records, 1967), lyrics and music by The Doors.
“Eiffel Tower High” recorded by Husker Du (Candle Apple Crey, Warner Bros. Records, Inc., 1986), lyrics by Bob Mould, music by Bo Mould and Grant Hart.
After listening to “I Am the Walrus” play Husker Du’s “Eiffel Tower High.” Have students find a connection between the two works. Answers may vary—repetition, references to popular culture, non-traditional sequencing, Eiffel Tower, etc.
Have students find contemporary music that idolizes or popularizes women based on appearance.
When showing additional work by Andy Warhol, play The Velvet Underground. He designed the album cover. The Dead Milkmen’s Smokin’ Banana Peels has a parody of that cover and in the liver notes you will find a 10th-grade essay on “Smoking Banana Peels.”
Lucie-Smith, Edward. Movements in Art Since 1945. London: Thames and Hudson, 1984.