Four guys and four days ago two fathers, a single guy and a DINK set forth on this continent, to a national museum, conceived in knowledge and dedicated to the proposition that all art can be collected.
Now we are engaged in a great retrospective, testing whether dots or an artist can paint four colors and can be so dedicated that they can endure. We met at the National Gallery Museum. We have come to this destination, as a starting point, to comemorate those artists that have come before us so that we might create. It is altogether fitting and proper that we (David, David, Adrian and I) should do this.
But in a larger sense, I cannot describe, rather depict, nor round out this artist…Roy Lichtenstein. So I, as a Pennsylvanian, drove to DC with these artists to examine, give praise and admire a collection of Lichtenstein's work. Though I and my cohorts would have rather seen the retrospective in chronological order; those higher up than I decided to arrange the show by subject matter. Could it be an easy answer to showcase an artist that broke out onto the art scene at the age of 37. The comic figure subject is the first step and exemplified by the large Mickey and Donald painting centered at the entrance. This is the piece that we as artists all strive for…the break out piece. “Look Mickey” is supported by documentation and two other abstract paintings on the second floor. I'm sure Mr. Lichtenstein wouldn't mind me saying he wasn't very good at the abstract stuff.
The story goes, or at the very least it works better in my mind, that Roy made it to LeoCastelli's gallery a few days before Warhol. Leo took Roy's work in and hung the “Look Mickey” piece. A few days later Andy comes into the gallery to show Leo some of his paintings of Superman, but Andy is blown away by the accuracy of Roy’s comic strip drawings and goes back to the drawing board (rather silkscreen) and cleans up his act. The rest is history.
This is mytake on Lichtenstein. The show is made out to illustrate that Roy has a good sense of humor and he can even poke fun at his newfound success. Becoming confident in his vocabulary he pushes Benday dots in yellow, red, blue, white and black all over the art history books while keeping up with the times. I'm too young to know for sure but I’d think everyone was saying he was as cliché in 1970 as Kincaid is today. Yet, look at back at art history in 1970. We have Donald Judd and SolLeWitt coming to the forefront with this minimal, clean, conceptual art and Roy comes out with his mirror series. Brilliant! It is conceptual, modern, minimal, and slick but has all the essence of a Lichtenstein with a few colors. The curators break the show up into Roy appropriating other artist, then landscapes and ending with an Asian influence. I see it as an artist that developed his own language then used that language to speak his thoughts on art history and it’s simplicity via dots and lines.
If you paid the five dollars for the headset you could have heard him say, “Art is based on art history or we would all be painting like children.” Or something like that. But I digress… These artists shall not have died in vain, that this retrospective under God shall have a new birth of freedom and that government of the people, by the artists, for the people, shall not perish from this earth. So if you're headed to DC to see the inauguration or the tail end of the retrospective or voting for the Oscars, remember Lincoln but see Roy.