December | NOSTALGIA
Sociologically Subjective: Mom and Pop Art
By Tricia Stewart Shiu
Sociologically Subjective: Mom and Pop Art – Read by Tricia Stewart Shiu
“A revolution is on the way, and it’s partly because we no longer take our standards from the tweedy top. All over the country young girls are starting, shouting and shaking, and if they terrify you, they mean to and they are beginning to impress the world.”
— Pauline Boty, The Public Ear, 1963
Simple and subjective, our upbringing can be a revolutionary, driving force or an authoritative, divisive wedge to artistic flow. Throughout the history of Pop Art, both masculine and feminine powers have defied and defined artistic sensibilities.
Mothers have had a profound influence in creative endeavors. Whether by actually creating Pop art or through motherly channel—that messy, one-of-a-kind, umbilical connection that has birthed some of the greatest artists and movements in history.
ARTISTIC ALLEGORY | LE MOT JUSTE
For example, the one and only female founder of British Pop Art, shook things up during her short time on earth (she passed at age 28). Pauline Boty (1938-1966) continued to create art through a pregnancy, cancer diagnosis during a pre-natal exam and birth of her daughter, sketching the Rolling Stones and releasing her final painting BUM, which was commissioned by Kenneth Tynan for “Oh, Calcutta!,” just months before her death. If you don’t, immediately, recognize her name, that is because her entire body of work was put in storage following her passing and was only released for exhibition after 1993. Boty, dubbed the “Mother of Pop Art,” delved deeply into the emotional undercurrent of society. What is most amazing, is that those themes, specifically the sexualization of women, are still, highly relevant today.
An article, “11 Female Artists Who Left Their Mark on Pop Art,” describes her art as: “Disorienting and experimental, Boty’s segment departed from those of her male compatriots—as did her practice. Rather than the cool detachment of a Warhol or Roy Lichtenstein, Boty’s works sprang from involved interest, referencing political subjects like the Cuban Missile Crisis.”
Although, there seem to be several “Fathers of Pop Art”—Richard Hamilton, Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol, to name three—the latter, garners the title for stellar, motherly influences in “fatherly” artistic advances.
Because Warhol was sick, quite a bit, as a child, his mother would sit with him for hours and they would create art projects together. Julia Warhola, said, “I buy him comic books. Cut, cut, cut. Nice. Cut out pictures from comic books.”
Warhol’s complicated bond with his mother would go on to spark one of the most well-known Pop Art pieces of all time. “In fact, the most eminent of Andy’s imagery—Campbell’s tomato soup can—was drawn from the nostalgy of his mother giving it to him for lunch every day after school.
Following him to New York City, his mother continued to collaborate with her son as Warhol’s artistic star began to rise.
“Julia Warhola had artistic aspirations herself, but it was her son’s passion that she fostered from childhood,” says Katie White in, ‘Thanks, Mom! 6 Famous Artists Who Loved Their Mothers So Much They Made Them Their Creative Muses.’ “Occasionally, her own pieces were given their own platform, as with her publication Holy Cats—a book filled with her whimsically drawn depictions of beatific cats—which she signed, not with her own name, but as “Andy Warhol’s Mother.”
Sociologically speaking, parental influence is highly subjective and fraught with judgement and opinion with regard to Pop Art. The best part of any movement, is riding those waves of heated judgements and influential understandings while, each of us, remembers exactly from where we came. Remembering is the key.