October 29, 2012

Comics to Pop Art: Roy Lichtenstein

National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC is showing a retrospective of Roy Lichtenstein. The exhibition was first mounted in the Art Institute of Chicago earlier this year and will travel to Tate Modern and the Centre Pompidou next year.

Below is the entrance to the exhibition in a beautiful building designed by I.M. Pei. Above, on the foreground, hangs an Alexander Calder mobile.

Roy Lichtenstein was inspired by comics and tried to represent comic strips in painting. But whereas comics tell a story in multiple frames, Lichtenstein tried to tell the same story in more-or-less a single frame, by playing with composition. He repositioned figures at different angles to achieve maximum impact and to reorient the viewer to focus on the most compelling part of a scene.

Early in his career, he did not paint by large brush strokes, preferring to draw lines and dots instead. He practiced the brushstroke until he mastered it in his unique style, influenced by a Western comic strips.

At a later stage in his career, he painted his own versions of the work of other  influential painters, including a Picasso and a Matisse below in the background.

He did a series of mirror paintings, trying to emulate mirrors. From a distance some achieve that illusion, but up-close they still seemed flat.

His landscape paintings are an evolution in style and technique, composed of dots and resulting in quietly beautiful pieces.

A sculpture in the outdoor Sculpture Garden, which appears flat...

...reveals its three-dimensional form when a viewer walks around it, as seen in the video below. 

Another sculpture in front of the Hirshhorn Museum. 

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