The history of art changed forever with the arrival of Pop Art, a movement born in the mid 20th century with deep roots in American consumerism. It was a radical change that mixed refined art with a popular culture that challenged the traditional values of 'fine art' and brought art itself into everyday life through the playful and colourful irruption of consumer objects, advertising, television, newspapers, magazines and comics.
One of the great masters of this artistic current is Roy Lichtenstein: after the golden age of Pop Art, which had transposed the cultural and commercial evolution of American society during the first half of the 1960s onto the colour plane, his work and his experimentation in the field of technical reproducibility began to take place alongside painting, abandoning his beginnings in lithography and woodcut in 1948, followed in subsequent years by etching and aquatint prints. His work challenged traditional art forms and themes through the use of techniques that combined pop culture images with bold primary colours and the Ben Day dots technique, a printing process in which small coloured dots of different colours are brought together, spaced or overlapped to create half-tones of colour through an optical illusion.
A tale in images
Curated by Gianni Mercurio, the exhibition at Palazzo Tarasconi in Parma presents the themes tackled by the American artist through a selection of over 50 works (editions and serigraphs, experiments on metal, textiles and plastic, as well as photographs and videos) from European and American collections and traces the artist's career from the 1960s onwards, recounting genres dear to him: From his beloved comic strips (in 1960, as a joke, Lichtenstein made a portrait of Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck for his children, transforming a cartoon into art) to advertising, still life and landscape. With forays into the abstract forms of masters such as Picasso, Klee, Ernst, into two-dimensional interiors, up to the series of female nudes.
The art of the gaze
"Based on the study of visual perception, Lichtenstein's is an art of the gaze, and it is therefore understandable how, in a society that has been progressively pervaded by the power of the image since the 1960s, it still has a strong and enduring influence on the creatives of vision," explains Gianni Mercurio. A catalogue accompanies the exhibition with texts by the curator, Roy Lichtenstein and the writer and art historian Avis Berman. The exhibition opens the year that Palazzo Tarasconi dedicates to America and Pop Art: from September 2023 the tribute will continue with the exhibition Keith Haring: Radiant Vision.