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Indepth Arts News:

"Roy Lichtenstein: Classic of the New"
2005-06-13 until 2005-09-04
Kunsthaus Bregenz
Bregenz, , AT

Roy Lichtenstein’s paintings from the early 1960s become a veritable synonym for American Pop Art. These oversized copies of aspects of quotidian culture, inspired by newspaper ads and comics, have gone down in art history as prototypes of the artist’s fascination with the new link between art and everyday culture. Thus Roy Lichtenstein has become one of the most influential figures in twentieth century post-war American art.

For more than three decades, Roy Lichtenstein (born in 1923 in New York; died in 1997 in New York) managed to stay true to his artistic sources and at the same time to stylistically expand the different thematic groups, to interlink and vary them in multifarious ways. The fact that he once said of himself, “I try to make a commercial Picasso or Mondrian,” clearly sums up the whole range of his artistic intentions. He strove to subject both art historical works, as valuable objects of a high culture, and simple everyday objects, as part of a banalized mass culture, to the same visually striking image strategy. In this way he succeeded in making them a fait accompli, confederates in the quest for the same beauty. Like Picasso, Lichtenstein used the apparent conflict between high and quotidian culture as a stimulating artistic impetus for his work. Thus he produced images of everyday objects, household items from the domestic culture and lifestyle of the normal American citizen. At the same time, Lichtenstein repeatedly paraphrased and reflected on works of classic modernism. With his unmistakable painting style that portrayed everyday objects and original artwork as products of purely mechanical actions, he became the herald of a new, humane perspective of the world and a new classic of the beauty of everyday life.

With 40 works from 1961–1995, the Kunsthaus Bregenz is devoting an extensive exhibition to this all-encompassing idea of a “Classic of the New.” The presentation is divided into three chapters. The first part of the exhibition on the ground floor of the Kunsthaus is dedicated to the early icons of his oeuvre, works with which Lichtenstein established his fundamental vocabulary of a new pictorial language and defined the European and American painting tradition of modernism as an unwavering parameter within his work. The early b/w works from 1961–1965 with their objects, household scenes, and reflections of artwork usher in a new chapter in art.

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