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Lichtenstein, Rouen Cathedral Set V

Video transcript
(lively music) Dr. Zucker: We're in SFMOMA and we're looking at a hilarious triptych. It's called Rouen Cathedral Set V and it was painted in 1969 by Roy Lichtenstein, the pop artist. So, this is just say, 7 or 8 years after pop has really established itself in the United States but pop has also really run its course. There's this sort of difference that's taking place here. There is a real thoughtfulness about the implications Dr. Harris: Of what they've done. Dr. Zucker: Yeah. Dr. Harris: If you think about earlier work by Lichtenstein or Warhol, Lichtenstein blowing up comic book frames like the Drowning Girl at MOMA or Warhol's Soup Cans. So, there's a sort of more classically pop and drawing from pop culture but here, Lichtenstein is obviously, as you said being more thoughtful about his place in art history and redoing Monet's series of Rouen Cathedral. So, he's doing a series based on a series. and it looks like just magnification of a reproduction because they've got those Ben-Day Dots Dr. Zucker: Exactly. Dr. Harris: that make up of course, bad printing in say, comic book from the early '60s. Dr. Harris: So, let's talk about those dots, the circles those are coming from a kind of color reproduction that we still use today that are called Ben-Day Dots and usually, they're so small, we can't see them but Lichtenstein has enlarged them and interestingly, this sort of takes on the look of that bad reproduction that you just referred to but actually, these are painted. So, he's still painting them but the individuality of that mark-making that happens when Monet paints so short, beautiful brush strokes is not here anymore. When we're up close like this, Dr. Zucker: (laughs) Dr. Zucker: Those Ben Day Dots. Dr. Zucker: (laughs) that this triptych is based on, can come into focus a little bit. Dr. Zucker: Well, you'd say the same thing about a Monet painting wouldn't you? Dr. Harris: That's true that it dissolves into brush strokes when you're up close. Dr. Zucker: I think it's so funny though that it has in a sense, the same visual quality as a Monet in its eligibility but this is a mechanized structure which is an expression of the 20th century as opposed to Monet's individual brushwork. Dr. Harris: And so, you have Monet's interest in his own subjective vision and his own subjective application of paint on the canvas and he painted the Rouen Cathedral at different times of the day and so, each moment is unique, each painting is unique and yet, they're part of a series and Dr. Zucker: The irony is that Lichtenstein painted these by hand and that's not to say he didn't use a stencil but they're still hand painted and so, there is this funny play in both sets that really sort of was brought to the floor about this conflict between mechanization Dr. Harris: And hand painting and the subjective vision and uniqueness. Dr. Zucker: They're just hilarious and wonderful, aren't they? Dr. Harris: They're very fun. (lively music)