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A History of Using Neon in Art

June 22, 2020 2 min read

Neon instantly conjures up images of basement speakeasy bars, nightclubs and advertising slogans. Neon signs have been all the rage over the last few decades, becoming a huge part of both culture and art. For years, the team here at Neon Creations have practised the art of neon sign making, creating signs from scratch based on your imaginative ideas!

With that in mind, we have delved into the history of neon art and how it became such a popular medium over the years.

The early days of neon art

During the 1930s and 1940s, nothing said glamour more than a neon sign. At the height of companies discovering new media advertising, neon quickly became a very interesting subject to take more notice of

Andy Warhol, who entered the world of art in the late 1940s, described neon as ‘one of the great modern things’. French artist Martial Raysse became one of the first artists to work with neon in an artistic sense, blending pop art portraiture with neon accents. This was one of the first instances of bringing neon into the cultural zeitgeist of the times.

Evolving neon artwork

Into the 1960s and 70s, neon signs became more associated with the seedier parts of cities and the likes of New York’s Times Square, which became a hub of advertising. While it had lost its initial charm of an artistic, neon glow, this use of neon gave inspiration to progressive artists like Americans Joseph Kosuth and Dan Flavin.

Joseph Kosuth created a variety of language-based neon artwork in the 60s, offering a visual representation of some of his key ideas. Dan Flavin was also known for his influential work with the fluorescent light during the 1960s.

Modern neon art

The artists of previous decades paved the way for neon art to re-emerge as a cool, cultural medium again. This was championed by the Young British Artists; a group of British artists who began exhibiting in the late 1980s.

This included the hugely successful Tracey Emin, who is known for her autobiographical and confessional artwork. Some of her most popular pieces include neon signs crafted in her own handwriting, often with quotes of love and emotion. We have some Tracey Emin inspired designs of our own!

Cerith Wyn Evans, a Welsh artist, also became known for his art installations that incorporate chandeliers and neon lights, some of which used to on display at London’s Tate Britain.

At Neon Creations, we make all sorts of neon art for your home and business. Whether it’s a truly personal piece to complete your living space or a functional advertisement for your bar, restaurant or salon, we do it with creativity and flair.

We make all of our neon signs by hand, crafted and bent into the right shape before being pumped with gas to create that instantly recognisable coloured glow. To get your hands on your very own neon creation, get in touch with us today!


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