Roy Lichtenstein – Pop Art Genius
Not many people would know Roy Lichtenstein’s by his name alone, (well done if you can even spell it), yet many people would know his artwork to see. He is one of the godfathers of pop art and his cartoon style of painting has made him very famous all over the world. His work is contemporary, often amusing and will be enjoyed by most people who see it. Whatever you do, don’t base your opinions on the Wikipedia picture of him, it’s creepy. Click here to see for yourselves.
Roy Lichtenstein was born in 1923 in New York and grew up there. He was an art and music lover from an early age, even though art was not taught at his school. After school he took summer classes at the Art Students League of New York and later moved to Ohio to get a Fine Arts degree. Lichtenstein became one of the most well-known pop artists, with big, colourful pieces that really draw the eye. His work is very similar to cartoon and comic book styles. He uses Ben-Day dots to help create this effect. This technique uses dots to create blocks of colour. Cyan, magenta, yellow and black are the four colours of dots most popularly used. This is known as the CMYK colour model which is associated with colour printing of newspapers and magazines. The dots are spaced in different ways depending on which colour is needed. This is why you may have seen colour dots around the edge of some newspapers.
Arguably Lichtenstein’s most famous work is ‘Drowning Girl’, painted in 1963. It was inspired by a DC Comic and shows a woman engulfed in water, with the caption “I don’t care! I’d rather sink than call Brad for help!” It is a witty piece of art; we can’t help but laugh at the woman melodramatic statement. She seems to be drowning in her own tears, swept away by her own feelings. It is an ageless stereotype that women are rash, stubborn and above all, emotional. It is one of his many painting of women, and not the only one that shows them in this stereotypical way. Brad is also mentioned in his other paintings.
My favourite of his pieces is called ‘Ohhh…Alright…’ and shows a dramatic redhead on the phone. We can’t tell whether she is upset, confused or suspicious by the news she is receiving; that’s for the viewer to decide. For me, that represents the very complicated world of a woman’s mind. I’m not one for supporting sexist stereotypes, but I truly believe women are emotional, much more so than men, and to be honest, I’d be surprised if there were people who do disagree. It can be compared with ‘Oh, Jeff…I love you too…But…’ which shows a blonde woman, also on the phone. Both are staring off the left side of the canvas, holding the phone up to their faces with both hands, and looking distressed. ‘Ohhh…Alright…’ sold for a staggering $42.6 million at a Christie’s auction in New York back in 2010.
He hasn’t only done paintings though; he has created many sculptures, the DreamWorks Records company logo and has decorated a BMW Art car in 1977. Lichtenstein has this to say about the car: “I wanted the lines I painted to be a depiction of the road showing the car where to go – the design also shows the countryside through which the car has traveled. One could call it an enumeration of everything a car experiences, only that this car reflects all of these things before actually having been on a road.”
So even if you haven’t heard of Roy Lichtenstein, look up his work, you will enjoy it once you do. You won’t regret it. For some reason, his work is considered cooler than others because of its comic book qualities. He’s a brilliant artist and a key figure in contemporary art culture.