April 08, 2013

Pop! Goes My Art

             I frequent London’s Tate Museum of Modern Art so often, I should probably have my own installation. Imagine then my delight as I was given a ready-made excuse to visit. The Tate is currently running the Lichtenstein: A Retrospective exhibition, an impressive collection of Roy Lichtenstein’s work. Lichtenstein was an American pop artist influenced by comics and advertising and became a leading art figure in the 1960s, along with Andy Warhol. 125 pieces of work make up Lichtenstein: A Retrospective, making it the first full-scale retrospective of this artist in more than twenty years.

             I visited the museum on a Friday afternoon, when lining up for tickets wasn’t a problem. However, the exhibition is drawing in crowds particularly on the weekend. It is recommended to either book in advance or to go in the morning to avoid disappointment. If you are a student, remember to use it to your advantage! I was able to shave the original ticket price down from 14 pounds to twelve pounds twenty. This is definitely one of the pricier exhibitions, but I assure you it is more than worth the splurge.

             With 13 different themed rooms, the exhibition is extensive and progressive, showing how Lichtenstein’s work developed throughout his career. The rooms include War and Romance, Modern, Early Pop, Late Nudes, and Chinese Landscapes. Exhibitions are the best way to get an overview of an artist’s work all in one place. Exhibitions sometimes display pieces of art from private collections that are not normally available to the public, such as in the Lichtenstein exhibition.

             The exhibition is not only comprised of pantings, but of sculptures, works on paper, unseen drawings, and collages as well. Speaking as a fan of Lichtenstein's, I didn't even realize he had created half of the work he did. His work is far more diverse than I could have previously imagined. Standout pieces for me included a giant composition notebook painted on canvas and oddly shaped eye sculptures. Unfortunately, photography was prohibited, and as much as I was tempted, Tate curators were enforcing the rule. In a way, not being able to document the exhibition allows you to just be in the moment with the artwork, which undoubtedly speaks for itself.

             Lichtenstein is renowned for his use of Benday dots, which is a system of using two or more different colored dots in order to create a third color. Comic books utilized this technique by creating Benday dots in primary colors to achieve the secondary colors of flesh tone, for example. Almost everyone in the exhibition wanted an up close and personal encounter with this process, including myself. We were caught lingering very closely to the paintings themselves, where the dots are inescapable. As Lichtenstein perfects his craft, the Benday dots noticeably become more defined and evenly distributed and sized throughout the exhibition. It is appropriate that Lichtenstein would make use of this technique, as he also borrowed common comic strip features such as thought bubbles and boxed captions.

             The closest tube stop in order to reach the Tate Museum of Modern Art is Southwark, where the museum is located only about a five-minute walk away. The Lichtenstein exhibition is hard to miss on the second floor with its sunny yellow entrance. I highly recommend exploring the rest of the museum if the Lichtenstein exhibition isn’t for you, as the Tate is one of my favorite places to visit in London. The Tate also offers coffee and tea, sandwiches, and cakes in their café overlooking a breathtaking view of the Millennium Bridge and St. Paul’s Cathedral. 

             Lichtenstein: A Retrospective finished on May 27th. See here for the permanent collection and current exhibitions offered at the Tate Museum of Modern Art . 

1 comment: