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Mr. Burgher's Art Facts

Roy Lichtenstein

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Roy Lichtenstein: October 27,1923-September 29, 1997...United States

"I think that most people think painters are kind of ridiculous, you know?"
~Roy Lichtenstein

The artwork of Roy Lichtenstein is preceded coming from a purely pop perspective. But that is just a perception. He began his art study under Reginald Marsh at the Art Students League in New York while still a student in New York’s Benjamin Franklin High School. He went on to study under Hoyt Sherman at the School of Fine Arts at Ohio State University, Columbus. Taking three years off to serve in the Army in World War II as a map maker for the US military in France and Belgium, he returned to his art studies and began teaching art. At this time he was working in an abstract style. In early 1960 he began to create works that had loosely drawn cartoon characters collaged into his abstract paintings. As the story goes, his son David showed him a Mickey Mouse comic and said he wished his dad could make art as cool as Mickey Mouse and not all the abstract paintings. Attempting to be as cool as a comic, this moment was a major factor in the development of Lichtenstein's pop art style. By 1961, comic-strips became his primary focus. He became friends with many artists that were experimenting with the inclusion of everyday life into their artworks, including: George Segal, Robert Whitman, and Claes Oldenburg.

Lichtenstein's comic-strips generally fell into two distinct categories. Either they focused on violent action or they centered on sentimental love. One of his most known artworks was the violent Whaam!. A cartoon American fighter jet shoots down another plain with an obvious Whaam! The work was based on the 1962 DC comic book "All American Men of War". “I'm not really sure what social message my art carries, if any. And I don't really want it to carry one. I'm not interested in the subject matter to try to teach society anything, or to try to better our world in anyway.”

Whaam!
1963. Magna on Canvas. 68 x 166  inches. Tate Collection.

On the other side of his work, one of the better known of his sentimental love paintings is his Drowning Girl. This comes from another DC Comic, this one from 1962 titled "Run for Love!". The original test proclaimed, "I don't care if I have a cramp!", but Lichtenstein shortened the text to "I don't care!" and changed the boyfriends name from Mel to Brad. My work is unlike comic strips in that every mark is in a different place. The difference may not be great, but it is crucial.”

Drowning Girl
1963. Oil on Canvas. 68 x 66 inches. Museum of Modern Art, New York, USA.

Although he was primarily known for his paintings, Lichtenstein was also known to work in ceramic media; create jewelry in silver, bronze and steel; woodcut prints; wood assemblages; and film.

Lichtenstein’s interest in the comics are significant for a couple of reasons. First off they are considered by most to be a cheep kids activity. But strangely, many adults will spend great deals of money to get a part of their past back. Because this kids comic is obviously geared toward kids, it is also seen by many professional artists as a lower peg on the higher achy of artists. "I'm interested in what would normally be considered the worst aspects of commercial art. I think it's the tension between what seems to be so rigid and clinched and the fact that art really can't be this way." Although he did work from many sources including still lifes, he would generally get his ideas from outside sources and because he makes almost direct copies of the comics, many contemporary art critics see him as the worst American artist ever and many do not even consider him an artist at all. In 1952, at an exhibition of his art at the Art Colony Galleries in Cleveland one of his drawings with a thirty dollar price tag was described by an art critic for the Cleveland News as “truly like the doodling of a five-year-old.” Many others see him as a second, only to Andy Warhol, on the spectrum of Pop Art greats. Sadly, the artist died in New York from complications of pneumonia.

Mr. Mike Burgher * PO Box 247 * Dallas Center, Iowa. 50063