I watched an interesting programme on BBC 4 about the retrospective exhibition at Tate Modern of Roy Lichtenstein.
I thought I knew his art work – comic book Pop art but I was surprised to learn about his earlier attempts at Abstract Expressionism in the 1950’s and his homage to major artists and sculptures that in my opinion are still unmistakably recognizable as his work.
The presenter Alistair Sooke asked if Lichtenstein was a ‘Pop art genius or a one trick artist?’ which I don’t think he really answered.
His paintings may look flat and simplified and as if they have been produced by a machine but when you look at them closely, especially the very large canvases such as ‘Interior with Waterlillies’ the meticulous craftsmanship shows through. Any line out of place or not straight would stick out like a sore thumb.
He started by imitating advertising of his era but his art eventually influenced the ‘advertising’ world which can still be seen today. As one of the contributors in the programme said ‘Lichtenstein made high art out of low art and the ad men made low art out of high art’
He has been accused of Plagiarism but he thought that he was transforming his comic book source into something else. So was he a Pop artist or a copycat – in my eyes he did copy but I’m in no way an expert in copyright etc so it would be up to lawyers to clear that one up and he is no longer around to fight his side.
I’m lucky that there is Tate Liverpool close by but it is a shame that most of the major art exhibitions are in London as I can’t afford to go to them. I’d like to have seen his black and white paintings of everyday items – they have a graphic quality about them that I like. They have given me an idea for future textile work using screenprinting, hope I won’t be accused of plagarism 🙂
Alistair Smart of the Telegraph wasn’t impressed
UPDATE 12th April
While I was looking on YouTube for artist studio tours I came across this short video on TateShots.