The origins of pop art in North America developed differently from Great Britain. In the United States, pop art was a response by artists; it marked a return to hard-edged composition and representational art. They used impersonal, mundane reality, irony, and parody to "defuse" the personal symbolism and "painterly looseness" of abstract expressionism. In the U.S., some artwork by Larry Rivers, Alex Katz and Man Ray anticipated pop art.
By contrast, the origins of pop art in post-War Britain, while employing irony and parody, were more academic. Britain focused on the dynamic and paradoxical imagery of American pop culture as powerful, manipulative symbolic devices that were affecting whole patterns of life, while simultaneously improving the prosperity of a society. Early pop art in Britain was a matter of ideas fueled by American popular culture when viewed from afar. Similarly, pop art was both an extension and a repudiation of Dadaism. While pop art and Dadaism explored some of the same subjects, pop art replaced the destructive, satirical, and anarchic impulses of the Dada movement with a detached affirmation of the artifacts of mass culture. Among those artists in Europe seen as producing work leading up to pop art are: Pablo Picasso, Marcel Duchamp, and Kurt Schwitters.
Although both British and American pop art began during the 1950s, Marcel Duchamp and others in Europe like Francis Picabia and Man Ray predate the movement; in addition there were some earlier American proto-pop origins which utilized "as found" cultural objects. During the 1920s, American artists Patrick Henry Bruce, Gerald Murphy, Charles Demuth and Stuart Davis created paintings that contained pop culture imagery (mundane objects culled from American commercial products and advertising design), almost "prefiguring" the pop art movement.