Saturday, January 7, 2012

Roy Lichtenstein's (1923-1997) Pop Art

Roy Lichtenstein (1923-1997).

The halftone dots used by Pop maestro Lichtenstein are world famous.

Roy Lichtenstein (1923-1997). Water Lilies with Jpanese Bridge Art

Taking motifs from the realms of comics & consumerism, Lichtenstein made paintings by piecing together dots & colored surfaces.

Roy Lichtenstein (1923-1997). Sunrise 1965

But a very different side of his work can be discovered at this exhibition in Museum Ludwig.

Roy Lichtenstein (1923-1997). Sunrise 1965

Around 100 works, chiefly large-scale paintings along with a number of sculptures & drawings, reveal his fascinating explorations of style through the history of art – from Expressionism & Futurism to Bauhaus & Art Deco.

Roy Lichtenstein (1923-1997). Spray 1962

Lichtenstein even appropriated works by his artist heroes - Picasso, Matisse, Mondrian, & even Dali - and interpreted them in an often ironic & cryptic manner using his own visual language.

Roy Lichtenstein (1923-1997). Reflections on Interior with Girl

Many of his early works are based on historic American paintings, such as those of Benjamin West.

Roy Lichtenstein (1923-1997). Peace Through Chemistry

But he also painted after such models as Picasso, Braque, & Klee, who according to his own words he worked into an “expressionist Cubism.”

Roy Lichtenstein (1923-1997). Landscape with Red Sky 1985

Lichtenstein even continued his takes on Picasso later on, once he had already begun to work with the half-tone dots.

Roy Lichtenstein (1923-1997). Landscape with Figures 1980

In his hands, Picasso’s works became a kind of comic.

Roy Lichtenstein (1923-1997). Landscape Mobile 1990

Painting a work that clearly resembled Picasso was, according to Lichtenstein, a liberating act.

Roy Lichtenstein (1923-1997). Interior with Skyline

With his Perfect & Imperfect Paintings Lichtenstein wanted to create abstract works purely for their own sake.

Roy Lichtenstein (1923-1997). Hey You 1973

According to him, the idea was to let the line start at some point & then to follow it, thus allowing it to draw all of the shapes in the painting.

Roy Lichtenstein (1923-1997). Half Face with Collar 1963

In his “Perfect Paintings” the line ended at the edge of the canvas, while in the “Imperfect Paintings” the line went beyond the bounds of the canvas; this was in fact a humorous play on the idea of the “shaped canvases,” a trend in the 1960s.

Roy Lichtenstein (1923-1997). Girl with a Beach Ball III 1977

Lichtenstein’s large-scale paintings from the series “Brushstrokes” show nothing more than gigantic, stylised, comic-like brushstrokes on canvas.

Roy Lichtenstein (1923-1997). Femme au Chapeau

This motif has great significance in the history of art: it is a symbol of painting or indeed art & testifies to Lichtenstein’s reflections on paintings about painting.

Roy Lichtenstein (1923-1997). Cloud and Sea 1964

Lichtenstein also reworked classic motifs, such as the Laokoon group using stylised brushstrokes, sometimes applied to the canvas with stencils & sometimes by hand using expressive gestures.

Roy Lichtenstein (1923-1997). Big Painting #6

The brush stoke became the dominant motif & superimposed itself on the subject.

Roy Lichtenstein (1923-1997). Ball of Twine 1963

So once again, his actual theme was painting as such.

Roy Lichtenstein (1923-1997). Amerind Composition II 1979

The artist also turned his mind to the classic genres of the still life & the landscape.

Roy Lichtenstein (1923-1997). Still Life with Crystal Bowl

His strongly simplifying style of painting allowed him to capture his subjects in a kind of cliché.

Roy Lichtenstein (1923-1997). Save Our Planet, Save Our Water