Roy Lichtenstein

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Roy Lichtenstein (27 October 192329 September 1997) was a prominent American pop artist, whose work borrowed heavily from popular advertising and comic book styles, which he himself described as being "as artificial as possible."

Quotes of Roy Lichtenstein[edit]

1960s[edit]

  • What interests me is to paint the kind of anti-sensitivity that impregnates modern civilization. I think art since Cezanne has become extremely romantic and unrealistic, feeding on art. It is Utopian. It has less and less to do with the world. It looks inward — neo-Zen and all that. Pop Art looks out into the world. It doesn't look like a painting of something, it looks like the thing itself.
    • In: Interview by G.R. Swenson (1963); as quoted in Painters on Painting, Eric Protter (1971) p. 263

'What is Pop Art? Interviews with eight painters' (1963)[edit]

'What is Pop Art? Interviews with eight painters', G. R. Swenson 'Art News 67', November 1963
  • Pop Art is the use of commercial art as a subject matter in painting, I suppose. It was hard to get a painting that was despicable enough so that no one would hang it – everybody was hanging everything. It was almost acceptable to hang a dripping paint rag, everybody [in America, mainly in New York, 1950s] was accustomed to this. The one thing everyone hated was commercial art; and apparently they didn’t hate that enough either.
    • pp. 25-27
  • Well, it [ (Pop Art ] is an involvement with what I think to be the most brazen and threatening characteristics of our culture, things we hate, but which are also powerful in their impingement on us. I think art since Paul Cezanne has become extremely romantic and unrealistic, feeding on art; it is utopian. It has had less and less to do with the world, it looks inward – neo Zen and all that. This is not so much a criticism as an obvious observation. Outside is the world; it’s there. Pop Art looks out into the world; it appears to accept its environment, which is not good or bad, but different – another state of mind.
    • pp. 25-27
  • 'How can you [accept] exploitation?' 'How can you like the complete mechanization of work?' 'How can you like bad art?' I have to answer that I accept it as being there, in the world.
    • pp. 25-27
  • I suppose I would still prefer to sit under a tree with a picnic basket rather than under a gas pump, but signs and comics are interesting as subject matter. There are certain things that are usable, forceful, and vital about commercial art. We’re using those things – but we’re not really advocating stupidity, international teenagerism and terrorism.
    • pp. 25-27
  • Organized perception is what is art all about.. .It is a process. It has nothing to do with any external form the painting takes, it has to do with a way of building a unified pattern of seeing...
    • pp. 25-27
  • In Abstract Expressionism the paintings symbolize the idea of ground-directedness as opposed to object-directedness. You put something down, react to it, put something else down, and the painting itself becomes a symbol of this. The difference is that rather than symbolize this ground-directedness I do an object-directed appearing thing. There is humor here. The work is still ground-directed; the fact that it’s an eyebrow or an almost direct copy of something is unimportant. The ground-directedness is in the painter’s mind and not immediately in apparent in the painting. Pop Art makes the statement that ground-directedness is not a quality that the painting has because of what it looks like...
    • pp. 25-27
  • Artists have never worked with the model – just with the painting. What you [G. R. Swenson, the interviewer] are really saying is that an artist like Cézanne transforms what we think the painting ought to look like into something he thinks it ought to look like. He’s working with paint, not nature; he’s making a painting, he’s forming. I think my work is different from comic strips – but I wouldn’t call it transformation; I don’t think that whatever is meant by it is important to art. What I do is form, whereas the comic strip is not formed in the sense I’m using the word; the comics have shapes but there has been no effort to make them intensely unified. The purpose is different, one intends to depict and I intend to unify.
    • pp. 25-27
  • my work is actually different from comic strips in that every mark is really in a different place, however slight the difference seems to some. The difference is often not great, but it is crucial.
    • pp. 25-27
  • I paint directly – then it's said to be an exact copy; and not art, probably because there’s no perspective or shading. It doesn’t look like a painting of something, it looks like the thing itself. Instead of looking like a painting of a billboard – the way a w:Reginald Marsh would look – Pop Art seems to be the actual thing. It is intensification, a stylistic intensification of the excitement which the subject matter has for me; but the style is, as you said, cool.
    • pp. 25-27
  • One of the things a cartoon does is to express violent emotion and passion in a completely mechanical and removed style. To express this thing in a painterly style would dilute it; the techniques I use are not commercial, they only appear to be commercial – and the ways of seeing and composing and unifying are different and have different ends.
    • pp. 25-27
  • Everybody has called Pop Art 'American' painting, but it's actually industrial painting. America was hit by industrialism and capitalism harder and sooner and its values see more askew.. .I think the meaning of my work is that it’s industrial; it’s what all the world will soon become. Europe will be the same way, soon, so it [Pop Art] won’t be American; it will be universal.
    • pp. 25-27

1970s[edit]

  • I think my work is different from comic strip – but I wouldn’t call it transformation.. .What I do is form, whereas the comic strip is not formed in the sense I’m using the word; the comics have shapes, but there has been no effort to make them intensely unified. The purpose is different, one intends to depict and I intend to unify. And my work is actually different form comic strips in that every mark is really in a different place. However slight the difference seems to some.
    • In: Movements in art since 1945, Edward Lucie-Smith, Thames and Hudson 1975, p. 153

1990s[edit]

  • There is a relationship between cartooning and people like Miro and Picasso which may not be understood by the cartoonist, but it definitely is related even in the early Disney.
    • Quoted in Robert Andrews, Dictionary of Contemporary Quotations (1996), p. 66
  • Art doesn't transform. It just plain forms.
    • Quoted in Jonathon Green, The Macmillan Dictionary of Contemporary Quotations (1996) p. 179

Quotes about Roy Lichtenstein[edit]

  • If an artist can’t do anymore, then he should just quit; and an artist ought to be able to change his style without feeling bad. I heard that [Roy] Lichtenstein said he might not be painting comic strips a year of two from now [1963]. I think that would be so great, to be able to change styles. And I think that’s what’s going to happen; that’s going to be the whole new scene.
    • Andy Warhol, in an interview with Gene Swenson 'What Is Pop Art? Interviews with Eight Painters (Part 1)', Art News, New York, November 1963; reprinted in Pop Art Redefined, John Russell and Suzi Gablik (eds.), London, 1969, pp. 116-19
  • This Neo-Dada, which they call New Realism, Pop Art, Assemblage etc. [Duchamp is referring to Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein ] is an easy way out and lives on what Dada did. When I discovered ready-mades I thought to discourage aesthetics. In Neo-Dada they have taken my ready-made's and found aesthetic beauty in them. I threw the bottle-rack and the urinal in their faces as a challenge and now they admire them for their aesthetic beauty.
    • Marcel Duchamp, in his letter to w:Hans Richter, in 1962; as quoted in Hans Richter, Dada Art and Anti-Art - New York: McGraw-Hill, 1965, pp. 207-8

External links[edit]

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