Born in Glasgow, McHale was one of the founding fathers of Pop Art. He was heavily involved with the Institute of Contemporary Art following its establishment in 1947, and became one of the most active contributors and theoreticians of the Independent Group. In 1955 he was awarded a scholarship to study with Joseph Albers at Yale University. This proved hugely influential to both his work and other British Pop artists such as Richard Hamilton. He returned to the U.K. in 1956 with a suitcase full of ephemera from American popular culture: this material extended an enormous influence over his fellow artists. In August that year he participated in the seminal exhibition, ‘This Is Tomorrow’. McHale also had a PhD in Sociology and wrote extensively on culture, technology and the future.