Roy Lichtenstein: Pop Remix will feature the artist’s 1950s to 1990s print projects demonstrating how he appropriated, transformed and remixed art historical sources including Claude Monet’s impressionism and Max Ernst’s Surrealism.
National Gallery of Australia exhibition curator Jaklyn Babington says Lichtenstein’s prints are among the most iconic of pop prints – large, bright, brash, sarcastic, gimmicky, cheap (stylistically) and a little controversial over their disregard for the concept of originality.
“Lichtenstein adopted appropriation as a complex art strategy and turned his attention to mining art history and, later on, mining his own work for subjects he could select, edit and recompose, remix and reissue as ‘Lichtensteinized’ images,” Babington says.
Much of the artist’s work hinges on a deliberate, “graphic, design aesthetic”.
Two of his most popular prints featured in this exhibition – Nude with Blue Hair and Crash! – revisit his early 1960s comic strip paintings influenced by famous images plucked from the pages of Girls’ Own Romance comics and early All American Men of War comic appropriations.
Babington says when Lichtenstein emerged on the 1960s art scene the then new generation of pop artists were pushed to “progress painting by reacting against what had come before” – the Abstract Expressionism made famous by artists such as Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning.
“If Abstract Expressionism can be seen as a celebration of the emotionally charged gestural brushstrokes of the unique and genius artist, then Pop Art can, in contrast, be seen as a deliberate re-introduction of the figurative – as opposed to the abstract; an embrace of mass produced and so-called ‘low art’ forms – as opposed to the one-off so-called ‘high art’ masterpiece; the adoption of a ‘machine-made’ style – not the unique brushstroke.”
The exhibition of 80 works on paper and multiples is drawn from the National Gallery of Australia’s Kenneth Tyler Print Collection and includes a newly restored and digitised, rare candid photography and film component.
Roy Lichtenstein: Pop Remix runs from June 30 to August 26.