TATE LIVERPOOL – Artist Rooms, Roy Lichtenstein
Roy Lichtenstein is what you would call a household name in terms of Modern Art; amongst the Peter Blake’s, Andy Warhol’s and Keith Haring’s, his unique style envisioned through his use of comic strip imagery, bold strong colours and Benday dots normally found in mass produced print. Tate Liverpool has the honour of displaying some of Lichtenstein’s most unique pieces of artwork from 1923-1997 due to a nationwide collection titled Artist Rooms, whereby over 1,600 pieces of modern and contemporary art are displayed throughout the UK, offering an in-depth understanding of the artist’s life work and their achievements.
Lichtenstein was born in 1923, and was an artist who was directly influential in the explosion of Pop Art in the 1960s, the Tate recognising the beauty of marrying popular culture with “avant-garde art” and creating something that reflects both aspects of modern society.
Before venturing to Tate Liverpool, I was captured by the news that on the 26th of September 2017, Dorothy Lichtenstein – the widow of the late Roy Lichtenstein and the President of the Roy Lichtenstein foundation, had visited the exhibition and had spoken about her husband’s life. This showed how important the exhibition is to not only Pop Art’s legacy but for Lichtenstein’s family and loved ones who recognised his work and how it should continue to be appreciated for years to come.
The most exciting part about the exhibition once inside was the wealth of artwork on display, from famous pieces such as “In the Car” (1963) which encompasses Lichtenstein’s love of comic book imagery, as well as “Wall Explosion II” (1965) and the sculpture based on “Varoom!” This sculpture, based on a previous painting, beautifully illustrates Lichtenstein’s versatility, as he could work with creating structures as well as purely using paint and still create an impact.
As well as the classics, the exhibition delved into Lichtenstein’s less well known stints as an artist, such as his venture into Dinnerware in 1966, intending to mass produce a collection, creating, what he said was “amusing contradictions between what is two-dimensional and what is three-dimensional.” Another pleasant surprise for me was that Lichtenstein also briefly flirted with the concept of film making with his film “Three Landscapes”, premiered at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (1971). The film was done on a 35mm format, and displayed onto three different screens, the Whitney Museum of Art calling it a “testimony to Lichtenstein’s experimentation with form and his fascination with cinema.” The film was placed at the end of the exhibition and provided a sense of peace and calm, with Lichtenstein using imagery of the sea and tropical fish and directly juxtaposing this with that of his iconic Benday dots, creating an ambience unlike any other. It definitely served to be the most moving piece of the entire exhibition.
All in all, Roy Lichtenstein’s use of generic, mass produced and consumerist ideas mixed with thoughtful and profound imagery makes him one of the most influential artists of the modern day. Therefore, if you are ever in the need of some inspiration, come to the Tate Liverpool and spend some time in this exhibition and it will be time well spent.
ARTIST ROOMS – ROY LICHTENSTEIN IN FOCUS is available in the Tate Liverpool until the 13th of June 2017 and is free for all!