To see “Look Mickey” in person, Roy Lichtenstein’s breakthrough painting, is like looking at a lost relic – the root of all things Pop: his early, definitive style and satire already visible in his controlled brushstrokes, comic-book aesthetic and signature hand-painted Benday dots. This is a precursor to the most comprehensive exhibition of Lichtenstein’s work, spanning 13 rooms of the Tate Modern, which include his famed War and Romance works such as Whaam! And Oh, Jeff… I Love You, Too… But…. In spite of their notoriety, these works formed only four years of the artist’s expansive career, and in a wonderful conclusion to this thorough retrospective are presented his large-scale and lesser-known nudes and Chinese landscapes. Conceived towards the end of his life, Lichtenstein’s palette has paled, the tone is serene. There is a lack of speech-bubbles and the scale used is paramount to gently tease the viewer with a hint of quiet honesty that his earlier works exchange for their hugely influential commentary on mass reproduction and the mechanical age.
This remarkable and captivating retrospective is a masterful nod towards Lichtenstein’s oeuvre that changed art forever, showcasing his work contextually through the chronology of his life as well as allowing the viewer to understand the times and influences of his work. Notably the Art about Art room highlights Lichtenstein’s adherance to his formal training, his composition of line, form and colour, seen in his homage to Picasso’s Femme d’Alger and the reproduction of the Vatican’s Laocoön: within this idiom is embedded infinite creative potential to stylise anything. This is emotionalism pre-packaged in accordance with the masked outlines of his work (Plus and Minus VI) and the finite edges of the canvas as comic strip panels (Masterpiece): this is the legacy of one of the central figures of American Pop Art.
TIME AND PLACE
Daily from 10am – 6pm,
Friday and Saturday until 10pm
@ Tate Modern
Bankside, SE1 9TG
Tickets £14, concessions from £6.10 to £12.20, all available here
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