As we admire the work of Pop Artist Roy Lichtenstein it seems unimaginable that this was once a creator who struggled to find his artistic voice. Like most accomplished artists, he honed his craft by emulating the techniques of those masters who moved him. Initially it was European Artists, such as Picasso and Miró, and by the late 1950s, Lichtenstein was fascinated by the action painters – Willem de Kooning and Jackson Pollock. In the early 1960s, while teaching at Rutgers University’s Douglass College, Roy Lichtenstein began “connecting the dots” regarding a newfound interest in the works of cartoonists, noting similarities of technique to those Modern European Artists he favored. Upon practicing forms of imitating the style of comic strips and applying techniques to synthesize commercial printing, Lichtenstein developed a hip and cool Pop Art style that would forever be identified as his own.
The comic-influenced works of Roy Lichtenstein hit us on a primal level − familiar, bold, simple, commercial – pure Pop Art! As any Lichtenstein collector will attest, the genius is in the artist’s perspective, his intense focus and reductionist treatment. From his replication of the Ben Day dots used for newspaper printing to the accentuated primary colors and bold lines – every work undeniably bears his fingerprint. Just as Andy Warhol touched the American soul with his Campbell’s soup cans, Lichtenstein’s enlarged singular comic strip frames have left indelible marks on the world of Contemporary Art and American culture alike.
Lichtenstein’s Backed potato is primitive, yet modern. It presents the us with the most basic features, just as advertisement would tout. Savor this rich yellow butter, white potato pulp contained in reddish brown skin – sitting upon a stark blue table that allows us to fully absorb our subject − producing an Americana feel. The plain background further places our full attention on the subject…selling it.
Roy Lichtenstein’s choice of “over the top” dramatic comic scenes provided the artist with a sly, mocking vibe that viewers could find humorous and evocative at the same time. Like Warhol, Lichtenstein appeared the master manipulator − an opportunist playing off of the public’s appetite to be in on the joke – while concealing uneasy insecurity about whether they truly understood the artist’s angle. One thing was certain. The art was bold, bright and in your face. Undeniably cool and intellectual, Lichtenstein had reinvented the American comic strip, elevating the medium to high art.
Lichtenstein’s Study of Hands is a brilliant work that humorously demonstrates how the comic style permits great variance within the human form. Each subject lends the mind its own story to complete of the appendage. The woman’s had combs through blonde hair in a sultry dramatic style that’s quite different from the playful hand extending from a jacket sleeve, and even more dissimilar than the art deco or wood-constituted versions included. Just as Roy Lichtenstein is able to enhance our focus on comic action by cropping his version of the scene more closely than his source material, this piece conveys how much of the story can be told by even the smallest of details provided.
Roy Lichtenstein realized how very much he could infer within the subject matter of his single frame comic strip interpretations. In the early 1960s, Viewers of the comic styled fiery military scenes couldn’t help but draw parallels to the escalating war in Vietnam. Macho fighter pilots enjoying a bit of gamesmanship, chaotic scenes playing out in bold primary colors – all produced for a child’s imagination of fame and glory. For the intellectual consumers of Contemporary Pop Art, this was a focal point for the juxtapositions of American pride attached to World War II righteousness versus confused jungle combat in Vietnam that appeared to be anything but high art. A conversation starter for certain!
At Vertu Fine Art, we are always in a state of acquiring and offering the most unique and sought after Lichtenstein works for sale. If you’re in the vicinity of our Boca Raton gallery, we welcome you to drop in and visit. If you are a collector requiring assistance in procuring or selling Contemporary Art, please contact us. We are always here to help.