I am showing an artist today who I deeply admire. Roy Lichtenstein, one of the preeminent pop artists in America, has a very graphic and bold style, accessing popular and art culture for many of his ideas and references.
He got his start using comics as his inspiration but I didn’t really pay much attention to him early in my career. I knew of him but he was just one of many pop artists and I wasn’t paying all that much attention to any of them while in college and graduate school (70s & 80s).
He didn’t just do comics, that just happened to be what he got famous for. What he did was use a very graphic, very bold comic book style no matter the subject. As he developed as an artist he expanded into using prior art styles as his references. That is when I started to notice and enjoy his work.
He played off the Expressionist and Fauvist styles here. He combined his strict linear style with a much more fluid brushstroke to make it happen. It is uniquely his work even with the references.
He then played off of a Cubist and Futurist themes for a while. Yes, they obviously reference the imagery of other artists but you wouldn’t mistake it for one of theirs. It’s is pretty much instantly recognized as a Lichtenstein.
And here we see him referencing another favorite artist of mine who I highlighted a few weeks ago. Anyone know who?
What I love about Lichtenstein is he never stopped exploring what he could do with what he could do. That sounds funny but it is true that we all have things we can do. But do we do all we can with our abilities and our sensibilities? I think Lichtenstein did and I have always been inspired by his willingness to stay true to his style and still push into new and compelling realms.
And to finish it off, let’s end with a painting from his classic comic book era. Are you wondering why I chose this piece instead of a couple of his more famous ones from back them? Here’s why. It sold at auction in 2010 for 42.6 million dollars. Was it worth it? I say yes it was. Why do I say that? Because the person buying it is NOT buying a painting. They are buying AND possessing a seminal moment in the history of art. They buy it, everyone that matters to them knows they bought it and they now believe they have the same value in the world as that art moment had and continues to have. Is that true? Yes, but just like the stock market, the value of those art moments can rise and fall very fast and along with it goes their own value. Not all that great for the ego long term but just in case you wonder why people put out the big bucks, that’s why in my opinion.
I found a nice selection of his work (and others) at WikiPainting. You can view by genre, style, media, etc.
- Week #10 – Coco Larrain
- Week #9 – Nina Levy
- Week #8 – Andy Goldsworthy
- Week #7 – Wayne Thiebaud
- Week #6 – Richard Diebenkorn
- Week #5 – Roy Lichtenstein
- Week #4 – Thomas Hart Benton
- Week #3 – Edward Hopper
- Week #2 – Henri Matisse
- Week #1 – Rembrandt