Image of the Week – 51 (Roy Lichtenstein)

Pop Art is actually industrial painting, it is what the whole world will soon become.”

Apple with Brushstrokes, c.1984 – Collage
Roy Lichtenstein (1923 – 1997)

I have a selection of T-shirts, most bought by ‘Er Indoors in Pasar Senen or Pasar Baru here in Jakarta for about Rp.20,000 (c.$2). There’s a thriving trade in imported clothes, either second-hand or factory rejects. I should object because locally produced textile industries say they suffer from diminished demand, but I can’t complain because without this source I have difficulty in buying clothes my size.

Many of my T-shirts are for use indoors only, but some are for ‘special’ occasions, such as holidays in Bali when I merge with tourists rather than being the neighbourhood’s token expat.

I mention this because I have the image above printed on a T-shirt; it’s in my ‘special’ collection. Our launderess is under strict instructions regarding its wash and care.

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I first encountered ‘pop art’ in 1969 at the Pop Art exhibition at the Hayward Gallery in London.* Along with Andy Warhol’s by then (in)famous Soup Cans, and a sculpture of an overflowing ashtray, the images that have remained in my memory bank are Roy Leichtenstein’s enlarged comic strips.

The exaggeration of seemingly banal everyday objects was a mental eye-opener for me. I began to join the dots between subliminal suggestion, the power of advertising to make consumers of us all long before ‘market forces’ and ‘globalisation’ became buzz words. This was political art; each objet d’art was a statement.

As is my T-shirt.
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Roy Lichtenstein: a Retrospective
Tate Modern,
London
Until 27 May

*Video (in b&w)

3 Responses to “Image of the Week – 51 (Roy Lichtenstein)”

  1. Jakartass says:

    I like this, but didn't think it fit within the body of my post.

  2. db says:

    I saw this show last year in Chicago. Apart from 'Whaam!' and a handful of others (which are great), he's a bit of a one trick pony. The later ones really looked like he was stuck for ideas. Give me David Hockney any day. Or Richard Hamilton: those two did more for pop art than Roy. 

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