From some people to understand. But many were

From first glance, American
society during the mid-1900s was one of a new found creativity and pop culture. After the
struggles of the Great Depression and World War II in the 1930s and 1940s, people
in the U.S. found a relief in the new up-and-coming creators,
from authors to musicians to painters. “In 1960, nearly half of
America’s population is under 18 years old. It’s a young society, and the most
affluent generation in U.S. history.”  Young Americans were drawn into this new
world – of vivid colors and The Beatles – that is, pop culture. Visual artists
were especially popular in this new age. “Pop Art was a celebration of this new
materialistic culture. It made art from mass-produced objects, the media, and
the world of glamour.” Along
with these new creators after WWII, advertising and manufacturing started to
arise in America as well.


      Many of the art produced during this time
in the U.S. reflected all the new possibilities and new social structure
throughout the country that came along with that, Andy Warhol being one of the
biggest artists to do this. Warhol got many mixed responses to his art, most of
them being of confusion. This is because of how philosophical and serious which
made it difficult for some people to understand. But many were able to
appreciate this new abstract expressionism and how he was bringing the new American
society into the spotlight and acknowledging the changes that were occurring. One
of the main changes of society that Warhol – and other creators at the time – showed
in their art was consumerism.

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 The 20th century was a
major period for essentially everything. There was especially a considerable
boom in manufacturing products, and therefore, consumerism followed closely behind. Around this
time, mass production and interchangeable parts was in full swing. This new way
of creating goods and products allowed even unskilled workers to make high
quality goods in bulk consequently making them cheaper. This new
change in the price of these products allowed the middle class to afford the
same possessions as the wealthy. “All across the United States there was a huge
assortment of goods and services to buy; and, as the president reminded
Americans, the only limits they had were those they imposed on themselves.” Before
this switch in price, the middle class, and below, only purchased what they
felt was necessary to survive. But now that many commodities were available to the
lower class as well, it changed their state of mind when purchasing from want
to need.



Many marketing companies took
advantage of this new drastic switch in the way people buy products. They were
now able to advertise to the newly expanding middle class as well as the
wealthy. Advertisers began to create propaganda for new
non-essential items seem like something everyone must have. There began to be new innovative campaigns
such as Pepsi Cola’s “Think Young” and “Pepsi Generation”
from Batten, Barton, Durstine & Osborn reflected advertisers’ efforts to
tone down their claims and establish a new relationship with their audiences. The
line between what people need and what they want became blurred. In
addition to posters, the media and arts also became commercialized with
advertisements. Now that watching television was becoming America’s
number one pass time, marketing companies began to place promotions before and
sometimes during television programs, drawing even more people into the new
world of consumerism. Since this new economy was taking America by storm,
many artists and other creators brought the world of flashy posters and
comedy-filled commercials into their world of music and more importantly, art. Andy
Warhol was one of the primary artists to draw attention to this new way people
consumed goods.


Andy Warhol was a very important figure during the 1960s being a pioneer
in the world of pop art. Warhol was very interested in society and how it
worked. He became very fascinated with the ideas of mass
production and he rise in consumer culture. Coca Cola was a main focus
of consumerism since the drink was one of the many products being mass produced. Since it
was part of consumerism, Coca Cola was also intrigued Warhol. One of the
artist’s works was simply titled ‘Coca-Cola’, which showed a black and white
portrait of the famous bottle that was one of the first big icons of American
pop culture. He was always very vocal about his views on American
society and consumerism, saying this about Coca Cola:

 “What’s great about this country is that
America started the tradition where the richest consumers buy essentially the
same things as the poorest. You can be watching TV and see Coca Cola, and you
know that the President drinks Coca Cola, Liz Taylor drinks Coca Cola, and just
think, you can drink Coca Cola, too. A coke is a coke and no
amount of money can get you a better coke than the one the bum on the corner is
drinking. All the cokes are the same and all the cokes are good. Liz Taylor
knows it, the President knows it, the bum knows it, and you know it.”

One of Warhol’s most famous pieces
using this art technique was the iconic Campbell’s Soup Cans.  Along with Coca Cola, this famous was also
being mass produced at the time as it was being demanded by the public. Andy
Warhol saw this and decided to include Campbell in his line of works. “Warhol transformed
the image into an icon by creating paintings and serigraphs featuring the cans
as a focal subject.”


      Andy Warhol really showed an intrigue in
attempting to convey the manner of consumerism into his works. During the
years that he was creating art that reflected consumerism, he founded his art
studio and named it ‘The Factory’ to imitate how products and goods were being
made. And just like these goods, Warhol made sure that his collection of pieces
showing consumerism was made the same way; using a silk screen medium to
create his art and having them mass produced by assistants.


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