Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Artist Names: Pop Artists

Hello, readers!

I'm continuing my series on Artist Names - click the link for past posts - and today we'll be looking at another one of my favorite periods, Pop Art!

Pop art came out of the increasing materialism and industrialization in the 1950's and 1960's in postwar Europe and the United States. Faced with the rise of graphic design and advertising, artists asked the question, "what is art?" This style of art ranged from paintings to collages to sculpture, with no singular style winning out; this wide variety of aesthetics is part of the reason I like the period so much! And while I myself am an Andy Warhol junkie, I'll be trying to include a few different artists of the era. 

*Disclaimer - as in the rest of lauded Western art history, there is a disproportionate amount of old white men below. Just warning you.*

Andy Warhol (Andrew Warhola)
Arguably the most well known artist on this list, Andy Warhol was known for both his art and avant-garde lifestyle (I've read three books on him, and each is more surprising than the last). His Campbell's Soup Cans and colorful Marilyn's are recognized today - UniQlo recently came out with a clothing line based on his work. As for his name - while I generally prefer the longer versions of names with nickname options, I think Andy works well on its own. And any little one would be happy to share the moniker with Andy from Toy Story! Warhol, on the other hand, is a bit too aggressive for a first name, so if you must use it, keep it in the middle. 

Jasper Johns
I've reviewed the name Jasper before, but it's nice to look at it through a new lens. Artist Jasper Johns is known for his colorful prints and paintings, especially Three Flags, 1958. Like Warhol, he used popular iconography of the time, but turned it on its head, making the viewer think about the icon itself. The name Jasper is currently at #218, and trending upwards quickly. I think it's a great alternative to overused Jason and ghost-themed Casper. The name means "bringer of treasure" - not a bad definition for an artist!

David Hockney
Having attended David Hockney's retrospective at the deYoung Museum in San Francisco a few years back, his art is fresh in my mind: bright colors, intense portraits, and striking landscapes. He began with painting, but now makes art on his iPad (Google some of his work!) David, of course, is a classic name with a long history. Hockney, however, doesn't have an established presence in naming - yet. It's similarities to Henry, Hadley, or Harvey make it a sound worth pursuing, and it feels positively English. It also has never made a recorded list, so it's very unique as a first name!

Roy Fox Lichtenstein 
Famous for his larger than life comic-style paintings, Lichtenstein also worked with the idea of pop art as parody, transforming popular images into fine art for audiences. His style is prominent today in clothing, copycat art, and design - and some great Halloween costumes come from his paintings! I'll put aside the classic Roy and difficult Lichtenstein in favor of his middle name - Fox. Fox has been growing in popularity since 1995 - there were 163 boy and 7 girl Fox's born in 2014. I suspect it's also used as a middle name more often. I personally love the name for its associations with Fox Mulder of The X-Files, and it fits in with nature name trends. 

Wayne Thiebaud
Thiebaud's vibrant paintings of gumball machines, hot dogs, and even Superman, catch every viewer's eye - my favorites of his are housed at the de Young Museum and SFMOMA in San Francisco. Another artist of mass culture, his works feel less overt with their subjects, and more interested in engaging audiences. Now, onto his name - Wayne is still too mid-century to return (and on a more personal note, there's an unscientific study relating the name to criminal propensity). Thiebaud, however, is related to the Shakespearean Tybalt - a definite possibility. It means "from bold people", and has the cute nickname Ty. Other variants allow for the nickname Theo!

What do you think of these names? Tell me in the comments!

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