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ROY LICHTENSTEIN. A Centennial Exhibition

Category: Exhibition 27. March 2024

Roy Lichtenstein, one of the most important representatives of Pop Art, is being honored with a major retrospective at the Albertina in Vienna, featuring over ninety works spanning the artist's entire career.

Beginning with his early works from the 1960s, one of the artist's trademarks becomes immediately apparent. Similar to Marcel Duchamp with his urinal, Lichtenstein brought something into the museum that had not been considered worthy of museum attention before: the comic aesthetics of so-called "pulp fiction" literature. He appropriates the characters from comics, enlarges them, and also imitates the traces of those cheap printing processes in which the originals were reproduced thousands of times, the so-called Ben-Day dots. He paints them into his works using stencils, formally strict and grid-like, surrounding war heroes, comic characters, and blondes with their clichéd expressions exaggerated by advertising.

His models are not attractive to him but rather, due to their simplification and exaggeration dictated by commerce, they are essentially lifeless. One can also interpret this as a critique against the commercialization of the world during the American post-war economic boom.

Ironic distance from the models he appropriates is evident not only in Lichtenstein's comic-like works but also when he, for example, imitates the brushstroke - the expression of an artist's style and a key to the art of American Abstract Expressionism - meticulously rendering it, liberated from any emotional expression of the creator, freezing this expression of the artistic moment in metallic sculptures.

A part of the exhibition, particularly suitable for the Albertina with its graphic collection, is dedicated to Lichtenstein's preparatory drawings. Here it becomes apparent that Lichtenstein was a planner, a technician, who meticulously prepared his works and left nothing to spontaneity or quick strokes.

In our film, Klaus Albrecht Schröder, Director General of the Albertina, guides us through the exhibition, which was made possible with the support and collaboration of the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation and the Roy Lichtenstein Estate. This exhibition will delight fans of Pop Art as well as those interested in the transformations of modern art in the age of technical reproducibility. (written by Wolfgang Haas)

The exhibition is open until 14, July 2024.

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