Friday, February 21, 2014

20: LICHTENSTEIN.

Roy Lichtenstein created an oeuvre that shaped the way you see and consume objects and media. If you're reading this, you're likely a fan of pop culture and sports (particularly modern soccer and Major League Soccer) you're primarily a consumer of objects and media. Hell, if you're a human being living in 2014 you're primarily a consumer of objects and media. And if Roy Lichtenstein shaped the way you see and consume objects and media, that should give you an idea of how Roy Lichtenstein shaped you.

All of your irony, all of your nostalgia, all of your referential pop-cuture expression, all of your homage, all of your brand hyper-awareness, all of the creation of your own identity through appropriating the creativity of those who came before you, all of your clever meme re-posts, indeed, all your base, are belong to him.

Roy Lichtenstein's origins as a productive artist were in Columbus. He studied at The Ohio State University and discovered new ways of seeing through his teachers. His first exhibits were in Columbus and, then, around Ohio. He earned two degrees from Ohio State and taught here early in his career. The Wexner Center has been a hub for world-wide traveling Lichtenstein exhibitions. His roots in Columbus are strong and deep and continue to grow years after his death. Today, every visitor to Columbus who arrives at Port Columbus passes by Lichtenstein's Brushstrokes in Flight, (1984).

Along with Andy Warhol and Robert Rauschenberg, Lichtenstein envisioned, created, and completed a sort of feedback loop by turning everyday images from mass produced comic strips and advertising into painterly-composed, artfully-crafted paintings and sculptures. The painters that preceded him in the early 20th century revolutionized the way reality was presented in painting, and presented new ways of seeing that were first rejected by general society. They were criticized as being base, trivial, immature, or even degenerate. Yet, eventually—as these things always do—the themes and styles that those visionary artists unveiled were gradually, slowly embraced and incorporated into everyday life—advertisements, products, day to day fashion, and other commercial art. Lichtenstein reversed that, and turned those day to day objects back into painting, but with his own impression—an artist's impression.

"I intend to unify," Lichtenstein said of his style. He flattened the hierarchical structure of so-called high and low art. He was a conduit between the worlds of the gallery and the supermarket. Post-modernism effervesced into actuality via Ben-Day dots, painted individually by an artist rather than printed by a reproductive machine.

It's fun to imagine how Lichtenstein would imagine a soccer team's crest. I think it would simple, referential (of course), challenging of tradition, and, most importantly, fun. I've given it an honest try, here.

Please, take an hour and watch this BBC special about The Tate Modern's comprehensive 2013 exhibition, Lichtenstein: A Retrospective. Or, if you cant find an hour, I hope you can find 10 minutes to watch this excellent video produced by the Tate Modern.



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