Roy Fox Lichtenstein is one of the most interesting and peculiar artists of the 20th Century. He had a long career of innovative artwork but is best known for a short burst of comic book parodies that became wildly popular in the 1960s, with three decades remaining to be spent in his studio.
Lichtenstein drove some people crazy, much like Andy Warhol did, by painting pictures inspired by advertising and popular culture, parodies that were respectful takeoffs on a familiar medium. Others loved both artists’ work enough to make them rich and famous.
When Lichtenstein’s pioneering pop art paintings broke into the encrusted world of art in New York City, it was an odd event. His paintings, parodies of comic book pictures, were startling since they erupted out of a career previously devoted to cubism and expressionism.
He also had a keen, modernist’s eye for Sixties design and advertising.
Roy Lichtenstein’s Black Cat #1 is as much Billy’s opinion about pop art style as it is about cat art. Billy refuses to let the Ben-Day dots crawling up his side interfere with his chilling out on the painter’s very modernistic couch.
Billy’s intense stare seems almost cynical. “Are you kidding me?” it says.
Or maybe it’s, “Why are you staring at me when I’m trying to take a nap?”
Lichtenstein went from pop art celebrity status to become one of the most exciting sculptors of his time. Borrowing from the splashy, basic colors of his paintings, his sculptures are fanciful abstract expressions that brighten public spaces around the world.
He also did parodies of classic paintings that updated the scenes in classic style. His Bedroom at Arles updates Van Gogh as a cartoon.
Some of his later work lets his sense of humor come through. Billy will take you into that a little later in the book.