The first full-scale retrospective in over twenty years featuring the works of iconic American artist Roy Lichtenstein is coming to the Tate Modern with 125 paintings and sculptures on display.
Although considered one of the prominent figures of Pop Art with his comic strips, advertising campaigns and trademark hand-painted Benday dots, this exhibition examines the artist’s career in a wider sense, co-curator Iria Candela says.
“His recognisable signature – the hand painted Benday dots derived from commercial printing processes – was critical to his act of re-examining the boundaries between ‘low art’ and traditional artistic genres,” she explains. “This exhibition aims to frame the artist’s rich and expansive practice.”
Throughout his career Lichtenstein transformed a range of pre-existing images, not just comic strips and advertisements but also well-known works by the likes of Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse as a statement on originality, Iria continues.
One of the key pieces on show at the Tate, Look Mickey, 1961, was considered a particular breakthrough for the 37-year-old Lichtenstein, setting the course of his career. Based on an illustration from his son’s Little Golden Book Donald Duck Lost and Found (1960) it is considered his first pop painting. However later in his career in the mid 1990s “Lichtenstein broached one of the most ancient genres of art, the nude, returning to the female subject in a new and provocative way,” Iria says. In 1995 he also returned to the landscape genre, creating more than 20 works in homage to the highly stylised paintings of the Song Dynasty in Chinese art.
Lichtenstein: A Retrospective is running at the Tate Modern, Bankside, SE1 9TG, from February 21 until May 27. Admission: £14, concessions available. Phone: 020 7887 8888. http://www.tate.org.uk