Pop art – now more than 60 years old – is having an interesting senior moment. It’s re-emerging not as art, but as home decor. By Kaleigh Shufeldt.
When Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein turned commonplace images into art, little did they know the long-lasting impression they would leave. Six decades on, pop art is inspiring home decor itself – everything from pieces of furniture to the kitchen backsplash.
The pop art movement took images from the mass media – advertising, packaging, comic books – and added irony and humor. Proof that the mid-century art form may never go out of style came with the recent launch of a line of mosaic glass tile by Dune titled, simply, Andy.
The tile is a fusion of pop culture and retro style, says Dune’s southwest regional manager Christine Jenkins. It was launched last year after the Dune marketing team traveled to major design shows throughout Milan and London where, says Christine, comics and pop culture were the inspiration for new fashion styles.
The tile is easy to install because it is made on a 28″ by 28″ ceramic tile with 2 mm wide cuts on the surface that divide the piece into 64 modules. It gives “the effect of real mosaic once it has been installed,” says Raquel Delgado in Dune’s marketing department. The pieces can be rotated to make each design random and distinctive.
Raquel says Dune used several kinds of vitreous paste to “enhance and stress” the designs. The company uses luster, transparent and iridescent paste to create a contrast of lights and shadows. Since the Andy line is rich in color, Raquel advises combining the tiles with white furniture and walls.
The Andy tile has already been specified for two homes in the Tucson area, says Elizabeth Miller, owner of Fractured Earth Tile & Stone in Tucson, which sells it. She recommends using the tile in a laundry or powder room to add a little personality and whimsy. A client of Tucson interior designer Lori Carroll has requested the tile for their laundry room because “they wanted impact”, says Lori. She plans to combine Andy with a neutral color and a simple countertop.
Italian artist Silvia Zacchello uses recycled and vintage furniture to create a three-dimensional and graphic tribute to pop art. Silvia has made multiple Campbell’s Soup Cans chairs, each one a different variation of Andy Warhol’s famous work of art. Silvia calls Warhol a genius, “a modern Leonardo da Vinci.”
Silvia paints trunks, desks and wall panels, but her main focus is chairs, which retail from $275 upwards. Chairs mean many things, says Silvia. “You sit in a chair to stop and think, to share your meal with your family and your friends, to talk, to relax.” Pop art has unifying properties too, she says. “Pop art is everywhere and it belongs to everyone.”
An old chair in her cellar first inspired the artist. Reluctant to throw it away, Silvia wanted to give it a new life and paint a reproduction of a famous pop art piece.
Each object takes three to four days to complete. Silvia first sands the furniture, covers it with white primer, draws the design in pencil and then paints it with acrylics. After the piece is dry, she covers it with a shiny clear parquet varnish.
Silvia says it’s important to use the right balance when using the furniture in a room. Her pieces go well with moderate colors and dressed wood, and mix well with a Scandinavian design that is simple and clean.
Tucson interior designer Pat Mooney, owner of Designlines, who also does color consultations, says bright, colorful home decor accessories are hugely popular. “And a lot of new colors have hit the market – peacock blue, coral, salmon, yellow.” Why? Low economic times may have something to do with it, says Pat. “Color is used as a pick-me-up.”
For architect Roger Hirsch, a 1950s Wrigley’s Gum poster gives a splash of color and architectural interest to his home on Fire Island, New York. The large wall can be seen from all parts of his home. He picked up the billboard from a poster shop and had it mounted onto canvas and professionally restored. Now, glued directly to the wall, it forms a permanent art installation.
“We wanted to create a large pop element in the center of the home,” says Roger, who also wanted something to cover the entire wall. “An original billboard met the size requirements while also being unique.” And the colors fit the character of the house, says Roger: it is minimalist but not completely monotone, and benefits from having a little pop.
Sometimes the pop comes simply with color itself. Interior designer Tracy Murdock of Tracy Murdock Design and Management in Beverly Hills is known for using splashes of color in her design. Her trademark yellow is a feature in a black and white room she designed for a loft owned by Italian fashion company Fendi.
The large print was originally a photograph from Phyllis Morris, a custom furniture maker, which Tracy had blown up and printed at Aztek Imaging. The dramatic picture gives the space an old Hollywood feel, says Tracy, and the yellow pillows and throws provide contrast against an otherwise dark room. And with the repetition of the giant image, there are also shades of Warhol.