The Tate gallery in London is showing a major retrospective of work by pop artist Roy Lichtenstein, who almost single-handedly dragged the comics aesthetic into the world of high art.
In the 1960s he broke with abstract expressionism and turned to mass culture imagery including comic strips and advertising.
1961’s “Look Mickey” was when Lichtenstein first copied cartoon characters aged 37 or 38.
“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,” says the Contemporary Curator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art Sheena Wagstaff.
One of his signature methods, running through the show featuring works from the 1950s through to the 1990s, was handpainted Benday dots that cover many of his canvases and contrast with black outlines and bright solid colours.
They can be found in his famous comic images, but also in landscapes and seascapes, adaptations of well-known works by other 20th century artists, nudes and Chinese paintings.
Lichtenstein died in 1997, aged 75.
“Lichtenstein: A Retrospective” runs from February 21 to May 27 at the Tate Modern in London.