Paris honours Pop Art hero Roy Lichtenstein at the Centre Pompidou

More than Blondes & Comic heroes - Roy Lichtenstein Retrospective at the Centre Pompidou in Paris

Roy Lichtenstein Retrospective at the Centre Pompidou in Paris: "I'd rather sink than call Brad for help!"

Roy Lichtenstein - I'd rather sink than call Brad for help!

Following the lead of museums in Chicago, Washington and London, the Paris Centre Pompidou Museum celebrates the Pop-Art Artist Roy Lichtenstein (1923-1997) with an extensive retrospective comprising 130 works.

An elegant course leads the visitors through ten rooms, in which not only the famous works inspired by comics and advertisement culture such as “Oh,Jeff…I love you, too…but” (1964) are exhibited but also works that show Lichtenstein to be a complex, multifaceted artists and demonstrate his intensive analysis of modernism and abstract expressionism. Artists such as Picasso, Piet Mondrian, Paul Cézanne, Fernand Léger and Henri Matisse fascinated him. In his work “The Artist’s Studio: The Dance” (1974), he appropriated the well-known painting “The Dance” by Matisse in his particular, comic-like aesthetic. In this work Lichtenstein demonstrates his brilliant drawing-skills: His art is an art of lines, similar to the masters of lines Matisse and Picasso.

The White Tree, 1980 © Estate of Roy Lichtenstein

Roy Lichtenstein

Together with Andy Warhol and Robert Rauschenberg, Lichtenstein (1923-1997) ruled the art scene of the 1960s that was dominated by pop culture. Lichtenstein superimposed black grits with the dots and lines of mass printing on his wide-eyed blondes, bomber pilots and comic heroes. He was scolded “America’s worst painter” (Life Magazine) for these paintings, yet the gallery owners Leo Castelli and Ilona Sonnabend took notice of the works with the speech-bubbles and exhibited them. It was not long until critics raved about the cheeky, sub-cultural daily life depicted in the works.

His works lend themselves to being interpreted as parodies, yet that is far from the artist’s intention: “I admire things I seem to have parodied”. Advertisement and comics fascinate him. “The subject of my work is our American definition of images, of visual communication.” Pop-art looks at the world around it – without judgement.

"LICHTENSTEIN: Expressionism" Installation view © Estate of Roy Lichtenstein - Photo by Zarko Vijatovic

Roy Lichtenstein

In the 1980s Lichtenstein created „Mural with a Blue Brushstroke“, a mural with a „large brushstroke“ that, meticulously drawn in large scale, becomes the motif itself. He also uses his stylised “Brushstrokes”, a reference to abstract expressionism and calligraphy, to create portraits and landscape paintings.

During the last years of his life, Lichtenstein developed the „Landscapes in Chinese Style“ painting mountain chains and filigree trees. With their pale, transparent colour they possess an enchanting quality and are reminiscent of Leonardo da Vinci’s famous “sfumato”, a technique that creates the illusion of fog patches hovering over the landscape. The numerous sketches and drawings that precede his paintings are for the first time on exhibit in the Paris retrospective. They allow an intimate glimpse into Lichtenstein’s creative process. In cooperation with the Lichtenstein Foundation, the Paris branch of the Gagosian Gallery shows “Lichtenstein:Expressionisme” (July 1 – October 12, 2013). The artist was interested in German Expressionism early on and studied the works of Jawlensky, Kirchner, Nolde and Pechstein and worked with woodcut. He transferred the stylistic elements onto the palette of his elementary colours and his pop aesthetic. “The Head” (1980), a coloured woodcut was also realized as a painted bronze sculpture: “Expressionist Head”. With this example the retrospective further demonstrates the artist’s broad artistic horizon and shows how fearless and unbiased the American Roy Lichtenstein approached European Art of the 20th Century.

Woman Drying Her Hair, 1980 © Estate of Roy Lichtenstein

Roy Lichtenstein