Roy Lichtenstein: Pop Prints and Brushstrokes
During the last 1950s and early 1960s, many American artist begun to adapt imagery and motifs from comic strips. Roy Lichtenstein’s 1963 offset lithographs Crying Girl and Crak! are some of the artists earliest comic style pop prints using his unique incorporation of the benday dot.
In the early 1960s Lichtenstein produced several fantasy drama paintings of women in love affairs. Crying Girl epitomizes the period where Lichtenstein aimed to portray a sentimental, glamorized and equally “mechanical” idealization of the American girl. Named for its onomatopoeic text, Crak! is one of several works related to military art and monocular vision. According to the Lichtenstein Foundation, it was used as a marketing poster that “was published to announce Lichtenstein’s exhibition at Leo Castelli Gallery, September 28- October 24, 1963.”
In the mid 1960s Lichtenstein made a series of paintings depicting an artists brushstroke. This series is often regarded as Lichtenstein’s sly nod to abstract expressionism, as he referenced the gestural brushstrokes and splatters of Williem de Kooning and Jackson Pollock. Lichtenstein stated “brushstrokes in a painting convey a sense of grand gesture; but in my hands, the brushstroke becomes a depiction of a grand gesture”. After the success of the 1965 Brush strokes series, the motif continued to be used throughout the artist career.
“It [the Brushstroke] was the way of portraying this romantic and bravura symbol in its opposite style, classicism. The Brushstroke plays a big part in the history of art. Brushstroke almost means painting or art. I did isolated Brushstrokes in 1965 and used cartoon brushstrokes to depict subject matters in the 1980s. I also did Brushstroke sculptures in bronze and wood to make them more palpable. … the Brushstroke, it is just an idea to start with, and painting it makes it more concrete, but when you do it in bronze sculpture, it becomes real and has weight and is absurd, contradictory and funny.”- Roy Lichtenstein.