Pop art

Roy Lichtenstein’s Art Quiz For Every Art Historian

Magda Michalska 10 June 2017 min Read

Pop art is popping up again! Yet this time, it won’t at all reveal the mechanisms of the modern society with its mass product, celebrities and media hegemony. This time I want to show you that Pop Art, with Roy Lichtenstein’s art in particular, referenced not only the contemporary times, but it also drew from the history of art.

Roy Lichtenstein, M-Maybe, 1965, Museum Ludwig, Cologne, Germany, lichtenstein art
Roy Lichtenstein, M-Maybe, 1965, Museum Ludwig, Cologne, Germany

What comes first to you when you read Roy Lichtenstein? I feel I’m jumping into the world of my childhood, full of comic books and Hollywood movies that I was too small to get. And I absolutely aspired to be the blonde girl from M-maybe… And although Lichtenstein directly referenced the comics, he had a much more serious and solid foundation for his paintings… Are you ready for a little Roy Lichtenstein art quiz?

Roy Lichtenstein, Magnifying Glass, 1963, Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein, Vaduz, Liechtenstein, lichtenstein's art
Roy Lichtenstein, Magnifying Glass, 1963, Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein, Vaduz, Liechtenstein

As you know, Lichtenstein painted his works, he did not screenprint them as Warhol. However, in his painting technique he wanted to emphasize the particular nature of images printed in press, typical for their Ben-Day dots.Doesn’t this technique remind you of somebody…?

Georges Seurat, A Sunday on La Grande Jatte,1884, Art Institute of Chicago, lichtenstein's art
Georges Seurat, A Sunday on La Grande Jatte, 1884, Art Institute of Chicago

Yes, Georges Seurat had exactly the same technique eighty years before him! Fuelled by different reasons but still counts!
In the 1960s Lichtenstein embarked on a project of reproducing masters such as Cézanne, Mondrian and Picasso. Do you recognize whose work is this one?

Roy Lichtenstein, Rouen Cathedral Set No 2, 1969, lichtenstein's art
Roy Lichtenstein, Rouen Cathedral Set No 2, 1969

Yes, it’s Monet’s Rouen Cathedral series!

Rouen Cathedral, Facade (sunset), 1892-1894. Musée Marmottan Monet, lichtenstein's art
Claude Monet, Rouen Cathedral, Facade (sunset), 1892-1894, Musée Marmottan Monet

Now it’s time for something more difficult, less obvious. Prepare:

58 1961 LICHTENSTEIN Girl with Ball lichtenstein's art
Roy Lichtenstein, Girl with ball, 1961, MoMA

It’s referencing a detail from Henri Matisse’s Joy of life. The shape of a standing girl with her arms up in the air is very close to Matisse’s one. The monochromatic background of a bright colour is another typical feature.

Henri Matisse, The Joy of Life, 1906, Barnes Foundation, Lower Merion, PA, lichtenstein's art
Henri Matisse, The Joy of Life (detail), 1906, Barnes Foundation, Lower Merion, PA

It cannot always be that easy… I’ll give you a cue for the final one: it’s referencing an Italian Futurist (you know I have a weakness for them) and the work has even the same title:

1974 LICHTENSTEIN Red Horseman, lichtenstein's art
Roy Lichtenstein, Red Horseman, 1974

It’s Carlo Carra:

Carlo Carra,The Red Horseman, 1913, lichtenstein's art
Carlo Carra, The Red Horseman, 1913, Museo del Novecento, Milan

In the 1990s Lichtenstein revisited his project and re-painted the works of such famous artists as van Gogh, Degas and Kirchner.

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