The real title of this column should be Pop Art. There’s no such creative discipline as ‘Mom Art’, or at least I don’t think so.
If you’re getting an inkling of the fact I know nothing about Pop Art, you’re absolutely correct.
According to the definition from Wikipedia, (more or less) Pop Art is a visual art movement of British origin in the mid-fifties although there were some American efforts at the discipline some thirty years earlier. It is characterized by themes and techniques drawn from popular mass culture like advertising and comic books, invoking abstract expression and banal elements of popular cultures.
The only things I understand in the previous paragraph are comic books and advertising. I have no idea what the rest of it means.
I started thinking about this after Robert Rauschenberg passed away and thousands of accolades surfaced praising his creativity and talent.
It might be a slap in my own face to admit it, but I never cared for Pop Art because it appears to me a hodge-podge collection of various items an idiot cretin like me would normally assign to the junk pile.
Yet, critics claim Pop Art is very academic. They assert that the unconventional organizational practices used in the work often make it difficult for some to comprehend the meaning.
I can Amen that.
Don’t misunderstand. I’m not slighting Pop Art nor demeaning any of the artists. All I’m saying is that I don’t get it.
My first introduction to Pop Art was several years ago at a writers’ conference. One New York agent, a young man of driving ambition in his mid-thirties, heard that there was a Rauschenberg exhibit at the Gulf Coast Museum in Port Arthur.
Naturally, anxious to be published, I volunteered to drive him over there from Beaumont. I’d never heard of Rauschenberg. Still, here was my chance to spend a few hours with a literary agent without any other writers around.
He spent two hours studying the exhibit, cocking his head from one side to the other, muttering to himself. On occasion, he pointed out particular images in the paintings to me, commenting on the artist’s skill.
All I could do was nod and agree, although, and this is a reflection of my own ignorance, all the paintings looked like was a third-grader gone berserk with an artist’s palette of oil paints.
My friend saw something I didn’t. (that happens to me a lot)
I appreciate traditional art, not the abstract.
I’ve never understood Van Gogh’s work, but critics claim he was a genius and collectors pay millions for his works. He must be.
Same with Rauschenberg.
To be honest, I tried to understand Pop Art.
I studied one work titled “Just What is It that Makes Today’s Homes so Different, so Appealing?” (Yeah, that is the title) It consists of a small apartment, a body-builder holding an outsized Tootsie Pop. (guess where Pop Art was coined) On a couch lies an almost nude female. On the wall behind them is a burlesque poster. Next to the poster is a guy wearing glasses. There’s a couple dozen other elements in the painting also.
Now, here’s a partial explanation of a couple elements of the work. “The body-builder and woman are iconically linked to the Warner/Minskey’s Burlesque image. (remember the poster on the wall). Warners was also called the Picadilly, which links the poster to the man wearing glasses, which were called Picadilly Weepers.
Now, there’s a lot more to interpret in that work, but I’m getting a headache trying to figure it all out. Besides, who cares about Picadilly Weepers?
More power to those of you who enjoy the art, but in my hopeless ignorance, I’ll settle for one of Thomas Kinkade’s Christmas scenes.
At least there I recognize all the features.

About Kent Conwell