Art pop

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This article is about the music genre. For the Lady Gaga album, see Artpop. For the Githead album, see Art Pop.

Art pop is a subgenre of pop music partially inspired by pop art.[1] It was developed as certain pop musicians drew inspiration from their 1950s and 1960s art school studies, including John Lennon, Bryan Ferry, Syd Barrett, and Brian Eno.[1] Such artists included allusions win their work to pop art, avant-garde literature, cinema, and fine art.[2] The loosely defined style includes music by Talking Heads, Peter Gabriel, Laurie Anderson, Beck, Pavement, and Duncan Sheik,[3] as well as artists such as David Bowie, Roxy Music, Japan,[2] and Grace Jones.[4]

According to critic Stephen Holden, the genre often refers to any pop style whose artist deliberately aspires to the formal values of classical music and poetry.[3] It is distinguished from art rock by emphasizing the manipulation of signs over individual expression.[1] According to cultural theorist Mark Fisher, art pop involved the rejection of conventional rock instrumentation and structure in favor of dance styles and the synthesizer.[4]


Many sources date art pop's origins to the mid 1960s, when producers such as Phil Spector and Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys incorporated pseudo-symphonic textures to their pop recordings, and when the Beatles first recorded with a string quartet. In North America, art pop was influenced more by Bob Dylan and the Beat Generation, and became more literary through folk music's singer-songwriter movement.[3]

Roxy Music in 1973

In the opinion of Jason Heller from The A.V. Club, English musician Brian Eno was a pioneer of art pop and explored the genre on a series of experimental solo albums he recorded after leaving Roxy Music,[5] a group cited by British sociomusicologist Simon Frith as the "archetypical art pop band".[6] Music theorist Mark Fisher said Roxy Music and David Bowie pioneered an English style of art pop in the early 1970s that reached its highest point in development with the early 1980s music of the band Japan.[2] Fisher also charaterized artists such as Grace Jones, Róisín Murphy, and the New Romantic groups of the 1980s as a part of this lineage.[4]


  1. ^ a b c Buckley, David (2012). Strange Fascination: David Bowie: The Definitive Story. Random House. p. 21. ISBN 1448132479. 
  2. ^ a b c Fisher, Mark (2014). "'Just When I Think I'm Winning'". Ghosts of My Life: Writings on Depression, Hauntology and Lost Futures. Zero Books. ISBN 978-1-78099-226-6. Retrieved October 6, 2015. 
  3. ^ a b c Holden, Stephen (February 28, 1999). "MUSIC; They're Recording, but Are They Artists?". The New York Times. Retrieved July 17, 2013. 
  4. ^ a b c Fisher, Mark (November 7, 2007). "Glam's Exiled Princess: Roisin Murphy". Fact (London). Retrieved November 23, 2015. 
  5. ^ Heller, Jason (June 14, 2012). "Getting started with Brian Eno, glam icon and art-pop pioneer". The A.V. Club (Chicago). Retrieved July 17, 2013. 
  6. ^ Frith, Simon (1989). Facing the Music: A Pantheon Guide to Popular Culture. Pantheon Books. p. 208. ISBN 0394558499. 

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