Pop Art Pioneer Roy Lichtenstein Given London Retrospective

Category: Media & Culture / Feb 18, 2013 1:26PM EDT
For Roy Lichtenstein, it was better that the public be over-familiar with his work than not familiar at all, a point never lost on the American artist best known for his giant cartoon strip adaptations. A major retrospective of the artist at London's Tate Modern puts famous images like "Whaam!" and "Drowning Girl" center stage. "This man comes out of a huge tradition of great painters. He is, in my mind, the great modernist painter of the twentieth century, alongside Picasso, alongside Matisse; and some of his peers from the '60s Oldenburg and of course Warhol... Jasper Johns, Rauschenberg etc. But what he's doing is very different from those four artists. What he's doing is continuing a tradition in painting, but radically overhauling it," said Sheena Wagstaff, Chairman of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Those ironic images of idealized beauty and glamorized violence came mostly from the early to mid-1960s, shortly after he broke with abstract expressionism and turned to mass culture imagery including comic strips and advertising. "I think that Roy knowingly captured the spirit of the age in many respects. But it was because of the sources from which he drew that they themselves were really reflections of what was then predominant in society," Wagstaff added. Lichtenstein died in 1997, aged 75. Since then his stature has grown, with important canvases fetching a small fortune at auction including "Sleeping Girl", which sold for $45 million at Sotheby's last year. "Lichtenstein: A Retrospective" runs from February 21 to May 27 at the Tate Modern in London. Video Source: Reuters