From PoC art, to pop art

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Alma Thomas in her studio, ca. 1968 Via

February 24, On this day

Art in the time of racial segregation

Alma Thomas in her studio, ca. 1968

Now recognized as a major American painter of the 20th century, Alma Thomas achieved this success as an African-American female artist, despite the segregation and prejudice of her time. Alma was born in September 1891 and died on February 24, 1978. She is alternatively classified by some as an Expressionist, and is best known for “exuberant”, colorful and abstract paintings created after her retirement from a 35-year career teaching art at Washington’s Shaw Junior High School. Her reputation has continued to grow since her death — in 2019, her A Fantastic Sunset (1970) sold at Christie’s for $2.6 million.

Alma Thomas, Red Abstraction, 1960, oil on canvas, Smithsonian American Art Museum. Gift of the artist Via
Alma Thomas, Wind and Crepe Myrtle Concerto, 1973, acrylic on canvas, Smithsonian American Art Museum. Gift of Vincent Melzac Via

Daddy of pop art

Richard Hamilton was one of pop art’s pioneers

Born on February 24, 1922, Richard Hamilton (the artist) is often considered by critics and historians to be among the earliest pop artists. Pop art is a movement that emerged in the UK and the US during the latter 1950s,  presenting a challenge to traditions of fine art by including imagery from popular and mass culture —advertising, comic books and mundane mass-produced objects. An English painter and collage artist, Hamilton produced art for Robert De Niro’s first motion picture and became friends with Paul McCartney, resulting in him producing the cover design and poster collage for the Beatles’ White Album.

Hamilton’s cover art for The Beatles (1968)