Artist & Sculptor: Roy Lichtenstein, 27 Oct 1923,-29 Sept 1997.
On his death critic Robert Hughes wrote: Roy Lichtenstein,
was not quite the most famous of the American Pop artists (that honor
belonged to Andy Warhol......). Lichtenstein was always lower-key as a
person, reserved, wryly courteous and not a great believer in the
virtues of publicity. He neither sought nor avoided the limelight.
His breakthrough came with
his first show at the Leo Castelli Gallery in 1962. Before long his
work, was the most popular of any Pop artist's. You could pick out his
style underwater or a mile away. Those Benday dots, that studied
neutrality of surface, that not-so-simple love of a vernacular (romance
and action comics of the '50s) that was already receding into nostalgia
when Lichtenstein took it up in the '60s.The motif caused considerable
offense, to the point where LIFE magazine nominated him as the worst
artist in the world.
Lichtenstein became known to an enormous public as "the guy
who paints comics," but in fact the comic-strip phase of his
work was quite brief: it lasted from 1961 to 1965, When he turned to
high-art ones (his pastiches of Picasso, Cezanne, Balla, Matisse and so
on), he could wittily run variations on art-history classics without
mocking the seriousness of his sources. He brought them down a bit,
without malice, just as he raised the comics a bit, without
condescension. He looked vulgar 35 years ago; today you see his dandy's
taste almost before you see the painting.
Jeff Koons said "Roy was such a great draughtsman, his
paintings were planned in advance, and they were done without any
visible gesture of the brush. but moving paint around in an
expressionist way is only one form of gesture. I've thought about the
question of gestures a great deal in the last few years, and I believe
that the act of making art is itself a gesture - a gesture in the mind.
Roy's work has helped me understand that, indeed Roy's work always
makes me feel a sense of possibility. I hope to be be able to bring
some of that sense of possibility to people in my own