Thursday, 28 February 2013

Lichtenstein, A Retrospective

Roy Lichtenstein, Whaam!,1963, Tate. © Estate of Roy Lichtenstein/DACS 2012

On February 21 a retrospective exhibition opened at Tate Modern, of Roy Lichtenstein, one of the central figures of American Pop Art. It is the first large-scale retrospective exhibition of his work since Lichtenstein passed away in 1997 at the age of seventy-three. With the collection of one hundred and twenty-five works from his early days to his late years, it becomes possible to look back over Lichtenstein’s paintings and the borderline they balance between art and mass culture. Lichtenstein is known for his work in which he enlarges single panels from comics. His active years, the 1960s, are the period in which Andy Warhol and his factory first drew from mass media and surrounding urban settings, as well as mass media and the world of commercials, to start producing work.

Roy Lichtenstein, Oh, Jeff…I Love You, Too…But…, 1964, 
Collection Simonyi © Estate of Roy Lichtenstein/DACS 2012

In 1962, Lichtenstein displayed shocking work at Leo Castelli gallery in New York, that overthrew the noble image of art that people had. This work was a painting named “Look, Mickey”. It was the famous Disney characters Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck, in a painting. The characteristics of comic books, such as the emphasized lines and simple coloring, had been reproduced in oil paints to paint these cartoon characters on an enormous canvas. Lichtenstein had transformed the mass-produced, widely circulated printed matter of the cartoon illustration, into a work of art.
Due to its motifs and his manner of painting, his work is often mistaken as simply the enlargement of a piece of printed matter. But is that really all?

For instance, let’s take a look at one of his most important pieces, “Whaam!” This painting is a panel from a comic about a fighter pilot, “Star Jocky”, published in 1962 in the compilation “All American Men of War”. If we compare it to the scene from the comic that inspired it: the background has been eliminated, the lines and coloring have been cleaned up, and the image has been reshaped into a composition with all the more impact. When viewed up close, the dot matrix used by printed matter is visible, but when studied more closely, we see that the precisely arranged dots have not been produced mechanically, but are entirely hand-painted. Although Lichtenstein’s motifs drew from mass-produced printed matter, because he allowed for alteration and hand-painted everything, his works became unique paintings.

 The retrospective also features works that are not nearly so well-known, such as paintings of female nudes, and his landscapes in the Chinese style. His series of paintings, Art History, which recreates artworks in Lichtenstein’s own style, seems to hurtle a challenge at modern art’s views on originality. This retrospective exhibition provides us with a wonderful opportunity to know the many different sides to Roy Lichtenstein.

The exhibition Lichtenstein: A Retrospective will be open from 21 February to 27 May at Tate Modern (open all days).
Tate Modern
Bankside London SE1 9TG United Kingdom
Opening times:
Sun - Thurs 10:00 - 18:00, Fri & Sat 10:00 - 22:00

Monday, 18 February 2013

Dalí the Genius -Centre Pompidou

The expression of his unique view of the world; the eccentric appearance characterised by his long moustache; his presence in the tales of numerous scandals -it is none other than the twentieth-century artist Salvador Dalí. At present, a large scale retrospective is open at Centre Pompidou in Paris. It features not only paintings, sketches, and sculptural work, but also photographs, film, and the television program in which Dalí appeared, in a total of two hundred works.

Among his numerous masterpieces, there is “The Persistence of Memory” (also frequently called “Melting Clocks”). This piece, painted in a superior technique, gives us a world in which reality and dream are strangely intertwined. Although one of the most famous of Dali’s work, when it is before your eyes it is shockingly small - a mere 24 x 33 centimeters. On this small canvas, with the seashore by the Porto Rigato, where Dali’s atelier was located, for the background, Dali’s face is delivered to us like a piece of meat beside these impossible, limp clocks. The long eyelashes make you think of an insect that might start to move at any moment. The piece / Dali’s view on paintings becomes plainly visible: ‘paintings are hand-drawn photographs made of the world generally imagined as a tangible illogicality.’

The second half of the exhibition does its best to carry you even deeper into Dali’s world: an installation inspired by the American actress Mae West. This work is her portrait - a chair in the shape of lips, furniture in the shape of a nose, curtains which look like hair, and so on - a room remodeled to a sculpture. Here viewers literally step inside the work, and can even photograph themselves inside.

After seeing Dali’s original work even once, it sticks in your memory; his eccentric appearance, too, makes an intense impression on people. It’s possible that his long, pointy moustache and his peculiar face are even more famous than his work. Dali excelled at self-production, called himself a genius, behaved in ways that departed from common sense, and constantly provided the topic for newspapers, television and other media. Among so many artists who despised commercial works and show business, Dali’s enthusiastic exposure towards media drew much attention and played a great part in establishing his fame. However, do we really believe in this ‘genius’ that he created?

At this exhibition the ‘genius’ image Dali created is questioned, but his work courteously visited, to attempt to throw into relief the essential form of Dali.

The Dali exhibitionis open until March 25th. (Museum is closed on Tuesdays).

Centre Pompidou
19 Rue Beaubourg
75004 Paris
Opening Times:
11:00-23:00  Closed on Tuesday