October 27, 1923 - September 29, 1997
Roy Lichtenstein – in pairs: what
can you remember from the video?
Source of imagery –
Aims / ideas:
Reaction from others-
1951 & 1953
Source of imagery – commercial art (war, romance comics, cartoons),
later high art (e.g. Picasso, Mondrian, Monet, Ab-Ex artists)
He owes his style to comics but not his themes.
Aims of Lichtenstein’s art
• To explore stereotypes found in popular culture
• To reflect the commercialisation of culture – to bring our attention to
how mass media represents our world
• To continue to redefine / question what art is. He does this by:
Producing intentionally depersonalised art; he cleans away the “record
of [his] hand.
Using subjects that are deliberately banal and clichéd
disorientating viewers – making them look with ‘fresh eyes’ at popular
culture. By taking one frame out of a comic strip, enlarging it, putting it in
a gallery, we don’t read it as part of the story. Familiar scenes take on a
Reaction – in the early 60s, SHOCK - to see comic book images on gallery walls.
Some cartoonists felt AFFRONTED by his appropriation of their work
Some in the art world were OUTRAGED he ‘copied’ masterpieces of famous artists.
Look Mickey 1961
• Oil on canvas
• 121 x 175 cm
• Chewing gum
• Cliched Scene
reduced to a
“sign” that we
In this work, Lichtenstein establishes basic elements of his ‘STYLE’ – discuss
what they are. Consider – colour, treatment of form, line, composition.
Lichtenstein sees his use of ‘low’ subjects as part of an art historical tradition of
gradual “vulgarising”… what does he mean by this?
Girl with Ball 1961
• Source: a holiday resort
advertisement in NY Times
• Subject: Comics tend to
trivialise or generalize emotions
by depicting cliched scenes.
What is the clichéd emotion in
• Form: How did Lichtenstein alter
this image? Why did he alter it?
• What is the effect?
• Composition: comment on the
use of figure / ground (negative
Lichtenstein on altering the
original source images:
• “What I do is form, whereas the comic strip is not
formed… Comics have shapes but there has been no
effort to make them intensely unified. The purpose is
different, one intends to depict and I intend to unify.
My work is different from comic strips in that every mark
is really in a different place, however how slight the
difference seems to some. The difference is often not
great, but it is crucial.”
• Read the other quotations on your sheet & discuss.
HE CHANGES ORIGINAL IMAGES BY
-- exaggerating the scale; --- altering proximity of
forms -- omitting distracting details
Lichtenstein’s art training
• At Ohio State University his
professor (HL Sherman) used a
technique he called ‘The Flash
Lab’ – showing images of flat
images on a projection sheet for
a fraction of a second, then got
the students to draw what they
had seen – as a way of
sharpening their visual
recognition in seeing ‘whole’
images, and helping student
appreciate the importance of
• This would have a huge
influence on Lichtenstein’s art.
the influence of industrialization
• “Everybody has called Pop Art “American painting”, but
it’s actually industrial painting. America was hit by
industrialism harder and sooner and its values seem
more askew” – Lichtenstein
• Also see Quotation 4
Note down 4-5 typical
also used by the
- Where is the humour
/ irony in this work?
- What stereotypes or
clichés is Lichtenstein
• FORM: is simplified, precise and hard edged.
Uses large FLAT areas of primary COLOURS
(red, yellow, blue, black and white) and
‘Benday dots’ to mimic mechanical production
methods used in comic books.
• LINE: Black outlines encase forms – another
comic book convention.
• Very unified ‘classical’ COMPOSITION.
Elements close together in a square frame
• Use of SPEECH BALLOONS, capitalised
dialogue with key words in BOLD
In the Car 1963
• Source: what type of
comic has this come
• Form: How has
Lichtenstein used LINE
in this work? What different
meanings do we ‘read’ from parallel
lines when looking at a comic book?
• Composition: how has Magna colour on board,172.7 x
203.2 cm. Scottish National Gallery
it been unified?
Whaam! 1963 (Tate Gallery)
• Subject: Why was Lichtenstein interested in war
• Composition: What is the effect of isolating these two
frames? Comment on how your eye is led in the work.
• Form: What comic book conventions are used ? What
effect does that have on the meaning/theme of the
• Explosion II, 1965, porcelain enamel on steel, 88x60in;.
• Lamp 1, 1978. What do these two sculptures humorously highlight?
Lichtenstein’s male protagonists
• What stereotypes / social commentary can
you find these works?
Torpedo Los! Magna on Canvas
1963 172.7 x 203.2 cm
MR BELLAMY, 1961
• What are the gender
stereotypes presented here? Hopeless 1964
• What cliched narrative is
• Where might these
melodramatic scenes come
Composition: is similar in each work –
comment on how the elements are unifed
Iconography: identify a commonsymbol
& its meaning in these works
Drowning Girl 1963
technique: Benday dots
Ironically Lichtenstein paints, by
hand, in a way that LOOKS as if
the work has been made by a
machine. He was also interested
in how Commercial artists talk of
“50% red” – colour is not used to
His use of Benday dots
emphasises the ARTIFICIALITY
and CONSTRUCTEDNESS in
much popular culture.
It also makes us question why
certain “marks” or art styles are
given higher status than others.
Close up from Drowning Girl. Can you recall the
process Lichtenstein uses? Tell your partner.
Woman with Flowered Hat 1963
• What has
as a source here?
• What is the
• What is the effect
Woman with Flowered Hat
• Lichtenstein shows that anything can
be art. Even a copy of a famous
masterpiece – in the style of a cheap
reproduction (photo lithography printing).
• He removes all traces of
• Copied from a postcard, so it is a copy of
• Idea that the reproduction was more real
than the original
• Artworks – public property now that all
have access to them. This is a kind of
levelling – makes art more democratic.
Rouen Cathedral 1969
Oil & Magna on canvas (63x42 in) SFMOMA
Left: Monet’s Rouen Cathedral in Full Sunlight 1893
Monet painted a series of paintings of this church at different times of the day to
record various impressions of light and atmosphere.
In what ways does Lichtenstein’s paintings provide an ironic commentary on
these art works?
Brush stroke • Yellow and Green Brushstrokes,
1966. 213 x 457cm; Oil and
series magna on canvas
• Parodies Abstract Expressionist
idea of originality / personal mark
of the artist by rendering the
brushstroke in a flattened, stylized
• Heroic/sublime is transformed to
something trivial, general
Brushstroke sculpture, Reina
Sofia museum, Madrid.
• Compilation of original advertisements and
comics used by Lichtenstein
Compare Warhol’s work
• Jacqueline Kennedy (Jackie III) Style comparison
[II.15], 1966 question
Screenprint on Paper, 40" x 30"
To Lichtenstein’s Drowning Girl,
1963 Oil and synthetic polymer
paint on canvas, 67” x 66"
3.1 STYLE QUESTION
• (i) Identify three key stylistic differences
between these two paintings
• (ii) Explain the reasons for the differences
between the two paintings by relating them
to each the aims, interests and methods of
each artist and those of Pop artists in
Set up your answer like this
• Brief intro – name 2 works and 3 main areas of difference
• Para 1 – The first main difference is…(*For A)
• Para 2 – The second difference is…(*For A)
• Para 3 – Thirdly, the works contrast because… (*For A)
• Para 4 – The reasons for the difference can be linked to
Warhol and Lichtenstein’s differing interests. Lichtenstein
aimed to…. (Relate to artist’s aims for M)
• Para 5 – Warhol, on the other hand, was interested
in…(Relate to artist’s aims for M)
• Para 6 – Both artists were strongly influenced by America in
the 1960s. (Comprehensively relate ideas to context for