Lichtenstein is an artist that I am very intrigued by, his methods, style but mostly the movement of pop art as a whole. The pop art movement shocked many and still to this day everyone has a very unique opinion about it, whether they like or dislike everyone has a view. I for one am a fan, I find his work fascinating, his ‘Kitch’ style is beautifully slick, however that is just one opinion. There are 18 individuals in the class and interestingly when hit with this project not two peoples opinions were there same. The reaction and comments from the class intrigued me. With just looking at the reaction of the class, I started to look into this further, being very interested in audiences reactions, peoples assumptions, how one reads into a piece of art work whether they like or dislike there still lies an opinion – a conversation.
Following on from this, it is no secret the ‘Pop Art’ movement was controversial, not only at the time but even still today. When Lichtenstein’s ‘Look Mickey’ propped up in a New York gallery, most (not all) critiques and audiences questioned if his work was even “Art”, being described as a copy cat and the “The worst artist in the U.S” he was still the talk of the town, therefore succeeding in his ideals of moving art forward changing the way we see/make art.
Lichtenstein took something minor and made it stand on its own. Was this to make a statement? Question society? To provoke questions about how images permeate our lives? who knows, I am not even sure if he himself new the questions he wanted to ask, he just put it out there. It is these question, critiques and audiences reactions that have influenced and inspired my concept the most; how we as a society read into things, art work being a main example, are we obsessed with having a concept? sometimes the painting might just be a painting and nothing more.
Moreover my concept has stemmed from conversation behind the artists work, the opinions, questions, assumptions, reactions….etc and most of all what Lichtenstein said about him work him self.
I started my research by looking at his work as a whole, most of all the many different type of methods he used, being inspired by the transformation of his work, there is a major contrast from his first piece to his last.
What makes his work so iconic? It is almost too obvious to say that his most recognisable method is the Ben-Day dot. When researching this I came across an interview with Lichtenstein himself. He was asked why he chose this specific method, what did the dot symbolise. When questioned about this Lichtenstein looked like he had been caught off guard, as if not understanding what he was being asked. Wasn’t it obvious? There isn’t a reason. with an expectation of a conceptual answer, Lichtenstein replied with, I suppose they could symbolise a lack of sensitivity,
“A background to print on but you don’t really care what you are printing”.
It is this type of conversation which got me thinking, the dot actually means nothing, and I wonder how many people read far into it. Fascinating.
From this I continued to look into how his work was described as well as reading/watching more interviews with Lichtenstein. exploring the chaos surrounding not only his work but the heat of the movement its self. I call this chaos ‘White noise” a blurriness with in society’s reaction to his work, because of all the different assumptions, questions…etc still today this continues, however ironically now Lichtenstein is no longer with explain, so the ‘white noise’ is just going to continue and continue.
(I related this to our generation in society, there is a lot of debate, opinions, many different views on life… and no so much straight answers.)
The core of my concept stems from three Lichtenstein quotes
“My work isn’t about form, its about seeing. I’m excited about seeing and I’m interested in the way other people see things.” (Lichtenstein)
“I am not really sure what social message my art carries, if any. And I don’t really want it to carry one. I am not interested in the subject matter to try and teach society anything, or to try better in our world anyway.” (Lichtenstein) – It seemed Lichtenstein wanted us to ask the question, he was a providing character,
“Pop art is the use of commercial art as a subject matter in a painting, I suppose it was hard to get a painting that was despicable enough so that no one would hang it, everybody was hanging everything, it was almost acceptable to hang a dripping paint rag, everybody was accustomed to this. The one thing, everyone hated commercial art, and apparently they didn’t hate that enough either.” (Lichtenstein)
Explaining, how Lichtenstein didn’t want to raise questions, if art is just art, and was interested in what people made of it.
Using his words as my concept and his many methods and style as inspiration.