Roy Lichtenstein – artist who made comic strip cartoons into art

Posted: Gabrielė Gugytė Date: 2013-07-25 01:19

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Most of you, especially who visit Facebook, have seen pop-art style picture with a crying blond girl who wistfully wipes a tear.

Also, I think that most of you never thought that it is a job of an artist. Oh yeah! It is Roy‘s Lichtenstein – the artist who was born and grew up in America – painting. Let’s meet him, so another time when you see his works you could recognize them.

Meet Roy Lichtenstein

Roy Lichtenstein was born in New York City in 1923 and grew up on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. In the 1960s, Lichtenstein became a leading figure of the new Pop Art movement. Inspired by advertisements and comic strips, Lichtenstein’s bright, graphic works parodied American popular culture and the art world itself.

Roy Lichtenstein’s paintings of comic strip cartoons, washing machines and baked potatoes are the examples of “classics” Pop Art. But his pictures were seen as brash and banal when they first appeared in the New York art world in the early 1960s.

Lichtenstein began experimenting with different subjects and methods in the early 1960s, while he was teaching at Rutgers University. His newer work was both a commentary on American popular culture and a reaction to the recent success of Abstract Expressionist painting by artists like Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning. Instead of painting abstract, often subject-less canvases as Pollock and others had done, Lichtenstein took his imagery directly from comic books and advertising. Rather than emphasizing his painting process and his own inner, emotional life in his art, he mimicked his borrowed sources right down to an impersonal-looking stencil process that imitated the mechanical printing used for commercial art.

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Although best known as a painter, Roy Lichtenstein has worked in a variety of media, from sculpture and murals to prints and ceramics. “In the early paintings I was looking for a tawdry type of commercialism as found in the Yellow Pages of the telephone directory. They were a great source of inspiration to me,”- says the artist.

Why he is the exclusive?

Lichtenstein is famous for his use of strip cartoons from American comic books which had a wide readership in the 1950s. He admired the skill of the commercial artists who could condense complex stories of love and war into the cartoon form.

custom pop art printed on canvas

© lichtensteinfoundation.org

Lichtenstein was accused of merely copying his sources, but he stressed the changes he made to the composition: “My works is actually different from the comic strips in that every mark is really in a different place, however slight the difference seems to some. The difference is often not great, but it is crucial.“

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Lichtenstein in his works restricts color palette to reach the four colors of printers’ inks effect. He also used Ben Day dots, a system devised to increase the tonal range in commercial printing through a dot screen method.

Whaam!

Whaam

© lichtensteinfoundation.org

“Whaam!“ is one of the most popular diptych painting of Lichtenstein. It is based on an image from “All American Men of War“published by DC comics in 1962. Throughout the 1960s, Lichtenstein frequently drew on commercial art sources such as comic images or advertisements, by the way highly emotional subject matter could be depicted using detached techniques. Transferring this to a painting context, Lichtenstein could present powerfully charged scenes in an impersonal manner, leaving the viewer to decipher meanings for themselves. Although he was careful to retain the character of his source, Lichtenstein also explored the formal qualities of commercial imagery and techniques. In these works as in “Whaam!”, he adapted and developed the original composition to produce an intensely stylized painting.

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”Roy got the hand out of art, and put the brain in,” thats how the painter Larry Rivers described Mr. Lichtenstein’s accomplishment. And if in later years his works was sometimes taken for granted, it was partly because his ideas had so infiltrated art that they were no longer only his. Mixing text and image, high and low, his whole strategy of appropriation paved the way for a generation of artists not yet born, or at least not yet out of elementary school, when he cribbed a picture of a girl holding a beach ball aloft from a newspaper advertisement. Roy Lichtenstein died in 1997 in Manhattan when he was 73 years old.

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