Here is a counterproposal to boring art books,
long wikipedia articles and tedious art guides
with shitty elevator music.
"cooking art" gives you a boiled down basic understanding
of some of the greatest artists of the 20th century
all wrapped in crucial culinary instructions
for a perfect meal.
Breakfast with roy
A culinary introduction to roy lichtenstein
(And a clever way to avoid Copyright infringement)
Step 1: Fry bacon.
In the fall of 1961 an artist by the name of Andy Warhol walks into the gallery of Leo Castelli. Warhol, a renowned commercial artist, presents his artwork, a new style he has developed: comic style paintings. Castelli, one of the leading art dealers of the 20th century, rejects him.
Just prior to Warhol, another young artist has presented him with the same idea. Castelli demands that there can only be one to establish comic art. And he recognises this person to be Roy Lichtenstein.
What makes an artist great? What is it that elevates a piece of art from the ocean of artwork to the apex of artistry, that burns so deep into both the memory and the heart of its viewer that but a single glance can evoke awe and admiration? Is it the stroke? The colours? The immense force both expressed and evoked by compositions so unique, so fascinating, disturbing, inspiring?
Honestly? I don’t know. It is like falling in love. There are many explanations but none that do it justice. If someone steals your heart, there are no good or bad reasons.
You can’t explain. You just know.
The man who unwittingly nullified Warhol’s style and caused him to reinvent himself with the help of a bunch of soup cans, Roy Lichtenstein was born in 1923 to a real estate broker and a trained pianist turned homemaker. His idols were Rembrandt, Daumier and Picasso and his inspiration his mother, who would introduce him to the New York art world and his love for Jazz.
His impact on the art world stretched far beyond the genius of Andy Warhol. Roy Lichtenstein has to a big part defined the idea of pop art, he has established a style as distinctive as it is enticing, and inspired generations of artists, designers, illustrators and pop culture itself.
Lichtenstein disputed the idea that one person’s drawing “was considered brilliant, and somebody’s else’s, that may have looked better to you, was considered nothing by almost everyone.” His most famous pop paintings of the 1960s were the result of choosing the “dumbest” and “worst” items he could find, and to “alter and improve” them. It was a time at which commercial art was despised and rejected by the art world. Abstract Expressionism dominated the scene and the trivial was dismissed. Lichtenstein found his fascination in the scraps of the status quo.
He studied Fine Arts at the Ohio State University. To pacify his parent’s fear of him becoming a breadless artist, he enrolled for a lectureship degree. Drafted in 1943, Lichtenstein fought in France, Belgium and Germany. He enrolled at the Sorbonne but returned home in 1946 when his father fell sick. Milton Lichtenstein died shortly after. Roy became an art instructor.
1951, Lichtenstein moved to Cleveland. He worked as an interior decorator, industrial draftsman, furniture designer, window dresser. The same year he had his first solo exhibition in New York. His style fluctuated between Cubism and Expressionism. 1954 and 1956 his sons David Hoyt (named after his most influential teacher) and Mitchell were born.
In 1957, to increase his proximity to New York, he worked as an assistant professor at the State University of New York at Oswego, teaching Industrial Design. However, Oswego turned out to be even more isolated than Cleveland. His style changed towards Abstract Expressionism.
1960 he accepted a position at Rutgers University. The closeness to New York museums and Allan Kaprow, who also taught there, influenced Lichtenstein heavily in the development of his style. He returned to proto-pop imagery and in 1961 used cartoon images and techniques combined with commercial printing techniques.
One day, Lichtenstein still on a quest to find his personal style, one of his sons challenged him as a painter. He showed him a Mickey Mouse comic book, asking if he could paint as good as that. His iconic work Look Mickey (1961) was one of the first to commence the art style that would make him famous.
Initially, he had little interest in continuing this new found style. But something would draw him back to it. “I couldn’t do any other kind of painting. […] Everything I did just looked like mush. And this thing kept looking at me.”
Having struck a chord, Lichtenstein further developed the comic strip style, producing six more paintings with pop culture characters from gum wrappers and cartoons. In the same year, Leo Castelli displayed his work at his gallery.
In 1962 Lichtenstein had is first solo show. All his work was sold already before the opening. 1963 he took a leave of absence from teaching and in 64 he resigned for good. His style swiftly developed from the rudimentary paintings of Look Mickey (1961) to a much more refined style as seen in The Ring (Engagement) (1961) and Drowning Girl (1963). In 1963, he produced his most prominent work, Whaam!. By 1963, Lichtenstein was a critical and commercial success. He was showcased in museums and galleries, grouped with Johns, Rauschenberg, Warhol and Rosenquist, overthrowing the status quo and redefining the idea of originality, fine art and entertainment.
Step 2: Fry an egg.
In 1965, the Rolling Stones release the song “The Last Time”. In the same year, Andrew Loog Oldham, their manager and producer, samples their guitar riff and creates an orchestral version. Fast forward to 1997, Richard Ashcroft and the former band members of The Verve find back together and create a song called "Bitter Sweet Symphony". They complete the song with another orchestral version of the orchestral sample of "The Last Time". The similarity to the original is minute. The song becomes world famous.
The lyrics written by Ashcroft, the song the result of the first studio session of a reunited band, The Verve acquire the rights to the sample but miss additional licensing requirements with ABKCO records.
ABKCO sues The Verve.
Ashcroft and his bands lose all rights and revenue from the song. The song that reunited the band and made them famous does not belong to them anymore. The authorship is changed to Ashcroft, Jagger and Richards, even the revenue of The Verve’s album Urban Hymns is to a huge part divided on the Stones. Ashcroft calls it the best song the Stones have written in 20 years. Keith Richards dares him to write something better. Oldham presumes authorship of the entire song.
Every time The Verve play it at the end of their show, they do so with the bittersweet love for their biggest success that is not theirs anymore.
Despite his appropriations, there is a remarkable similarity between Roy Lichtenstein’s work and the templates he used. Lichtenstein considered his approach an examination of mass media and pop culture, elevating mundane everyday objects to an artistic meta level. His originality was questioned throughout his rise to fame, with Life Magazine calling him “the worst artist in the U.S.”. Lichtenstein considered the closeness to the original not a flaw but an intense critic of its content.
He “entirely transformed [his work] in that my purpose and perception are entirely different. I think my paintings are critically transformed, but it would be difficult to prove it by any rational line of argument.”
“I am nominally copying, but I am really restating the copied thing in other terms. […] The original acquires a totally different texture.”
Lichtenstein did not credit the original artists. He did not pay them royalties, he did not ask them for permission to use their work.
In his comic strip Bottle of Wine, artist Russ Heath (DC Comics) discusses Lichtenstein “reinterpreting” his work for the paintings Blam (1962) and Brattata (1962). While Lichtenstein made millions, Heath got nothing. His resentment was shared by many colleagues that fell prey to Lichtenstein’s transformation. William Overgard, who, to his surprise, had provided the template for I Can See The Whole Room!… And There’s Nobody In It! (1961), was actually flattered by Lichtenstein’s copy. The piece would later sell for over 40 million dollars.
Most vocal, comic book artist Dave Gibbons (Watchmen) described Lichtenstein as a copycat, comparing the issue to the music industry, which would never have allowed this uncredited appropriation, questioning the unconditional veneration of contemporary art critics for the work of Roy Lichtenstein. Certainly, comic artists have a different idea of the man who transformed comic art into popular art.
It is ironic that, when entering the official Roy Lichtenstein Foundation’s database, one is greeted with the explicit warning that any images “may not be reproduced, downloaded or modified in any form without the express written permission of the Estate of Roy Lichtenstein”.
Step 3: Butter some toast.
In 1964 Lichtenstein experimented with sculptures, with a ceramicist providing the bust made of clay and Lichtenstein painting them in his distinctive graphic style. 1965, Lichtenstein discontinued his approach of appropriation. He stopped copying comic book panels and created his Modern paintings and Modern Sculptures series, a strong departure from the previous realistic comic style towards a more abstract array of elements. 1965 also commenced the Brushstrokes series. Lichtenstein reduced the painting to the brushstroke itself, depicting expressive strokes in his iconic comic style with bold colours and thick outlines. The tool of the artist became the subject itself.
With Three Landscapes, Lichtenstein shortly ventured into the medium of film in 1970.
In the same year, he bought a house in Southampton where he would spend the greater part of the 70s in seclusion.
Lichtenstein advanced more into the abstract, reigniting his roots in Cubism, Surrealism and Expressionism, with surreal paintings such as Pow Wow (1979), and sculptures like Amerind Figure (1981).
Lichtenstein explored still life paintings from 72 to the early 80s and reused his own paintings in his Reflection series, which depicted his comic imagery of the early 60s painted in frames and glass cover, with the painted reflection of the glass obscuring and deconstructing the image itself. His 1996 highly stylised Chinese landscapes made heavy use of the Ben-Day dots that would shape the landscape without any of the distinctive outlines he had used in previous work.
In addition to comic panels, Lichtenstein repeatedly reinterpreted existing artwork throughout the years of his craft. Woman with Flowered Hat (1963) was based on Pablo Picassos Dora Maar, the series Girl with Tear (1977) followed the surrealistic movement around Salvador Dalí. Nonobjective II (1964) borrowed from Mondrian, The Artist’s Studio: The Dance (1974) framed Matisse in a new perspective. Portrait of Madame Cezanne (1962) copied Erle Loran’s diagram of Paul Cézanne’s Portrait of Madame Cézanne and earned him a lawsuit by Loran.
Roy Lichtenstein was hospitalised at the New York University Medical centre in 1997. On September 29th, he died of pneumonia at the age of 73.
Step 4: Add orange juice.
Lichtenstein painted with oil and Magna (early acrylic). He read countless comic books and collected the panels he found most interesting. He would then appropriate them, project them on canvas and trace them. Key features were the thick outlines, strong colours and Ben-Day dots. The homogenous pattern of dots was typical for comic books of the 50s and 60s that were printed in a four colour process (cyan, magenta, yellow, black). The spacing and overlapping of Ben-Day-Dots enabled inexpensive shading and secondary colours within a limited colour spectrum. Lichtenstein magnified and stylised the dots to the extreme in his most iconic images, enhancing their effect in his later work.
Look Mickey (1961) (Reference)
I Can See the Whole Room and There's Nobody in it... (1961) (Reference)
Girl with ball (1961)
The Ring (Engagement) (1962)
Woman with Flowered Hat (1963) (Reference)
Drowning Girl (1963)
In the car (1963)
Torpedo ... Los! (1963)
Whaam! (1963) (Reference)
Head of Girl (1964)
Nonobjective II (1964) (Reference)
Oh, Jeff ... I Love You, Too ... But ... (1964)
Head with red shadow (1965)
Big Painting VI (1965)
Modern painting I (1966)
Modern Sculpture (1967)
Pow Wow (1979)
the white tree (1980)
Dr Waldmann (1980)
Amerind Figure (1981)
Still life (70s-90s)
Reflection on Girl (1990)
Landscape with Scholar's Rock (1997)
Roy Lichtenstein (1991) Documentary
Roy Lichtenstein: Diagram of an artist (Tate)
Roy Lichtenstein Biography
Warhol on Lichtenstein
An Artist's "original" provokes questions
The Principality of Lichtenstein
Russ Heath's comic about being ripped off
Deconstructing Lichtenstein: Source comics revealed and credited