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the art collectors » Pop Will Eat Itself :: Lichtenstein’s Still Lifes at Gagosian

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010

Pop Will Eat Itself :: Lichtenstein’s Still Lifes at Gagosian

(All photos: Jeff Newman/TheArtCollectors)

Though Roy Lichtenstein is most remembered for his pioneering contributions to the early American pop movement of the 1960s, he continued to make new art up to the 1990s. From 1972 – 1986 he produced a large body of painting and sculpture that can be described as pop still-lifes. Technically, these were rendered in the same style of his popular comic-book based art, mimicking mechanical methods of production through the use of vivid primary colors, sharp lines, and his trademark simulation of the Ben-Day printing process. Thematically however, Lichtenstein’s subject matter veered away from mass culture and the recreation of commercial imagery. In place of D.C. comic panels we find the objects of traditional still life painting like fruits, vases or items arranged on tables.

Make the mistake of reading too carefully, and you might think there was some grand message here – that in the same way mass media has, the stuff of these works too has become part of our collective consumer conscience. However, like the rest of his art, Lichtenstein was quick to question any profound reading of this series, noting, “When we think of still lifes, we think of paintings that have a certain atmosphere or ambience. My still life paintings have none of those qualities, they just have pictures of certain things that are in a still life, like lemons and grapefruits and so forth.”

For a body of work whose deeper meaning even the artist was quick to denounce, this is truly a site to behold. In the first exhibition devoted entirely to this series, Gagosian Gallery’s presentation of some fifty still lifes is one that rises to museum standards and deserves to outlive its summer gallery viewing. That being said, reflecting on his art with John Coplans in 1972, Lichtenstein remarked, “I don’t think that whatever is meant by it is important to art.”

Roy Lichtenstein – Still Lifes
Gagosian Gallery
May 8 – July 30
555 West 24th Street
New York, NY 10011

(All text and photos: Jeff Newman/TheArtCollectors)

Posted by ATARMS | Filed in Exhibition, Galleries, History, New York City, Uncategorized

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