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:

  1. paint a mural that represents the psychedelic era and uses styles of pop artists
  2. identify characteristics of pop art.
  3. identify imagery of the psychedelic era
  4. reproduce or create an appropriate lettering style for the psychedelic era.


This lesson is appropriate for the middle or high school student. It would work well in an art or humanities class.

Time Frame

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.

Museum Connections

poster wall - lettering and Pop Op Rock with Andy Warhol and His Plastic Inevitable Band, Peter Max - 1969 posters and other artifacts, Andy Warhol - 1968 album covers, Janis Joplin’s Porsche, and John Lennon’s Rolls Royce


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.



    Days One and Two
  1. Introduce pop art and some of its characteristics. Then show Richard Hamilton’s Just What Is It That Makes Today’s Homes So Different, So Appealing? and play “I Am the Walrus” by the Beatles. Have students discover all the different items within the collage. What could this be an advertisement for? Give student the lyrics to “I Am the Walrus.” Have them find a connection between the two. Answers will vary—references to popular culture, mixing many different images, things put together without an apparent connection, etc.
  2. Show Andy Warhol’s Marilyn Monroe, play Jimi Hendrix’s “Foxy Lady” and then The Doors “Twentieth Century Fox.” Give students the lyrics. How does the music relate to the artwork? How does Warhol portray Marilyn? Show additional Marilyn pieces by Warhol, such as Marilyn Monroe’s Lips. Discuss Warhol’s background.
  3. Show other work by Warhol (32 Campbell Soup Cans, Brillo Box, Elvis). How are these pieces similar? (repetition, dehumanization, packaging, etc.)
  4. Show James Rosenquist’s F-111 and I Love You With My Ford. What items are within these collage paintings? How are they different from Richard Hamilton’s piece? How does it make you feel?
  5. Show artwork by Lichtenstein (Drowning Girl, Little Big Painting, Hopeless, and Whaam). Discuss his comic style technique.
  6. Show art work by Claus Oldenburg (Soft Giant Drum Set, Study for Giant Chocolate, Two Hamburgers, Hamburger, Popsicle, & Price). How does three dimensional art work fit into the realm of pop art? Why would Odenburg use food? Do you want to eat it? Does it make you hungry?

  7. Day Three (or more if you are not visiting the Museum)
  8. Visit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum’s I Want To Take You Higher: The Psychedelic Era 1965-1969 exhibit. If you cannot visit the Museum, have students research sources for psychedelic imagery in the library, magazines, internet, etc.

  9. Days Four through Nine
  10. After the research period, have a discussion about shared characteristics of pop art, the music selected, and the psychedelic era. (both movements rejected traditional values - although in different ways; both have optimistic feel; etc.) Discuss any differences students may discover.

    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.
    Day Ten

  11. Have a class critique. Students should discuss the positive connection between the three panels. How well does the mural represent the time period? the music? the characteristics of pop art? Students should then complete a reflective writing piece about their role in the mural as well as how the mural reflects the psychedelic era and what aspects of the era the mural does not address.
  12. Display the mural within your school.


The completed mural is the evaluation for this unit. The mural should be based on the following criteria:

  1. Is the color reflective of the time period?
  2. Has an appropriate lettering style been incorporated into the mural?
  3. Is the entire surface painted?
  4. Did all students paint?
  5. Are the images reflective of the time period?

Selected Recordings

“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.

Enrichment/Additional Resources

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.