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Roy Lichtenstein

This video brought to you by Tate.org.uk

Roy Lichtenstein is one of America's foremost pop artists. In the 1960s, he broke with the established traditions of abstract expressionism, choosing instead to create paintings that mimicked the the techniques of printed materials (such as the famous Ben-Day dots) and drawing on popular imagery from comic strips, advertisements, and other printed sources. Lichtenstein makes us think about the paradox of being an artist -- someone who we often think of using their hands to make something -- in an age of mechanically produced and printed images. This mass production of images challenged not only the tradition of hand-painting but also the perceived originality of painters at the time, so Lichtenstein created work that both drew on and parodied popular imagery. Take a look back in time at Lichtenstein’s legacy through a few of his key paintings, like Whaaam (1963).

Lichtenstein once said: "The things I have parodied, I really admire." How could that be? How do you think art can celebrate and critique something at once?
Created by Tate.

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Video transcript

Roy Lichtenstein is one of the foremost pop artists his work broke with the canons of abstract expressionism in 60s by mimicking the techniques of printed material as well as appropriating imagery from comic strip advertisements and other mass printed sources and we are now looking at his work back in time to reassess his enduring legacy this one of seminal works by Roy Lichtenstein made in 1962. It is interesting to note in this painting how the artist tried to mimic the look of printed image and creating this sort of paradox of the artists hand in an age of mechanical reproduction because the artist was really responding to this challenge that all these dissemination of and mass production of images at the time a different media were affecting the artists in respects to originality but also in my respects to the tradition of hand painting. He of course was one of the artists alongside other pop artists like Klaus Oldenburg and Andy Warhol who were producing this very shocking images in which there was a very potent collision between commercial art and what it was considered fine art so it's a very crucial moment that defines the evolution of American art. This is a Femme d'Alger, a painting he made in the 60s in a moment where he had already discovered his own personal style that had made him famous this particular painting is based on painting by Picasso it was a very playful sort of activity to just go through the our history and big images that would mean something to him and basically Lichtenstein them with his Pop style he actually once remarked that: "the things I have actually parodied I really admire". So this is the last room of the exhibition in which we are showing the last series of his Wars which are the landscapes in the Chinese style in this particular painting which is landscape with boats. It's fascinating to see how the subject matter of the picture is being pushed forward to the left bottom side of the picture the little fisherman on the boat and it is actually the Ben-Day dot pattern which is taking ownership of the picture we can see how these series of paintings reflect a moment of serene abstraction for the artists sort of a personal intimate reflection of his work and all his career at this stage of his life when he was already his seventies so they are very very vivid and still very powerful paintings that he was making at the time which were really opening new doors for instrumentation in his art