Lichtenstein at the National Gallery

johnboy 18 July 2013 8
ken tyler

Roy Lichtenstein is seriously cool. And so are The Pixies. So I’m writing this review listening to The Pixies and I recommend you read it doing likewise.

If your life is so sad and pathetic as to have none of The Pixies music in it, then here; I’ve got some for you:

There you go, you owe me bigtime.

Now, let us turn our attention to the exhibition opening on Saturday at the National Gallery which I got to look at today because I too am cool (but not as cool as Roy Lichtenstein or The Pixies).

When I was a very little tacker I was lucky enough to be dragged around a lot of art galleries. Feet sore and frequently bored out of my mind I always came away with something that had blown my mind.

More often than not, I was to come to realise the things that had excited me were by Roy Lichtenstein.

This was no accident, his most famous works play with the style of comic books which were pretty much the whole of my pocket money spend back then.

(And seriously, if you’ve got a choice between a vase of flowers and an exploding jet fighter which are you going to go with?)

This exhibition starts (as they often do) slowly with early work almost unrecognisable to an audience that knows only the famous works.

I’m not saying the early abstracts are Picasso knockoffs, but if imitation is the sincerest form of flattery then Picasso must have been pretty damn flattered. (A striking similarity to Jackson Pollock’s early stuff too now that I think about it).

It’s a frankly fascinating progression through the exhibition from deep dark abstract art where you have to guess at what shapes represent, through to what at first glance are very simple representations.

Those images on closer inspection tend to be a few simple lines and the cunning use of dots to fool our brains into thinking we know what we’re looking at.

The Mirror series mid way through gives a really clear look into how he was starting to bring his techniques together.

He then does the trick backwards with the bull series, which starts with a clearly recognisable bull, and then progresses it to an abstract essence of bull-ness.

The thing I liked most of all with this exhibition is the mighty sense of humour in the collected works.

If you’re not getting the jokes take a second look at his haystacks series, or “Still life with lobster“.

The Gallery has put together an excellent educational resource (let it load fully) if you want to bone up before going.

It should also be noted that Roy Lichtenstein’s clear lines and bright colours make his work really suitable for modern decor, the gift shop will be a handy handy place to get something for the wall.

Even better the exhibition is free. There’s just no reason not spend a quick hour enjoying something very beautiful and here to enjoy until January.

Now if we can just get The Pixies to Canberra we’ll be onto a winner.

[Pictured: Ken Tyler opening the exhibition]

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8 Responses to Lichtenstein at the National Gallery
Masquara Masquara 6:32 pm 22 Jul 13

Nice riff on “away with the pixies” there JB! : )

grump grump 5:13 pm 22 Jul 13

this Lichtenstein isn’t from Gelderland is he?

Gerry-Built Gerry-Built 3:59 pm 22 Jul 13

I. Shall. Not. Miss!

Holden Caulfield Holden Caulfield 7:04 pm 21 Jul 13

I went earlier today. It’s very good!

A shame the catalogue is printed on uncoated paper. To me it does an injustice to Lichtenstein’s artwork, which is a bit self-indulgent from the production team IMO.

toriness toriness 12:11 pm 20 Jul 13

i went to a lichtenstein exhibition at tate modern earlier this year, it was freaking awesome…. and i was more than happy to pay for entry.

this one @ NGA is free!! what a coup!!

Geoff_from_Lushpup_Images Geoff_from_Lushpup_Images 7:42 pm 19 Jul 13

Yay Pixies! There’s an exhibition on?

poetix poetix 6:35 pm 18 Jul 13

Nice, unusually long review. (And cooler than The Pixies, anyway.)

Holden Caulfield Holden Caulfield 1:22 pm 18 Jul 13

This is winning!

And perhaps a good activity for what is shaping as a totally pants weekend weather-wise.

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