Art about Art

Roy Lichtenstein took cartoons from comic strips and turned them into huge paintings. But he did a lot more than just this - he parodied well-known paintings by famous artists. One series of many being Monet's three Cathedrals, in glaring colours. In short, he slashed the dominant art movement at the time, no doubt annoying Jackson Pollock, Lee Krasner, Willem de Kooning, Mark Rothko et al. Abstract expressionism was the thing in the late 1950s, and after experimenting with it for a brief period, Lichtenstein moved on to pop art, alongside Andy Warhol. Art as a noble means of communication, surpassing all spoken languages, a universal entity, open to analysis of form and stroke, is here replaced with thick black contours and blocks of psychedelic yellow, red and ultramarine blue. And plenty of dots. 

The Tate Modern is showcasing a retrospective marking Lichtenstein's legacy. The age of mechanical reproduction is reflected in Lichtenstein's replicas, playing on our conceptions of authorship and dizzying our eyes. Also on show are his gold sculptures that look like they've just been chopped off Manhattan's Chrysler building, and surprisingly loosely painted sketches that demonstrate tremendous influence from Picasso. 

As for Lichtenstein's life: he was born in NYC into a Jewish American family and his father was a real estate broker. Fame came in his mid 30s, after taking up art academically and teaching it too. Albeit he received criticism for his style and subject matter straying from 'meaningful art'. Aerosol sprays, toast, domestic scenes, Mickey Mouse, lemons, perfectly proportioned men and women experiencing shallow distress. What's not to like? Exhibition on until 27th May.