ARTIST ROOMS | Roy Lichtenstein

Tate Modern, London


Natalie Bell Building Level 4 East


Roy Lichtenstein was known in the 1960s for his paintings of comic strips. In these later prints, he deliberately hides his trademark imagery under abstract patterns.

Lichtenstein was a US pop artist, inspired by mass-produced images. He came to prominence with paintings featuring ‘Ben-Day dots’. These mechanically printed spots were used to colour newspaper and magazine pictures. His work presents the paradox of machine-printed imagery that has actually been carefully made by hand.

This room brings together five works from Lichtenstein’s Reflections print series. To make them he combined different printing techniques with collage. Each features one of his earlier paintings partly obscured under bands of colour. He came up with the idea when he was trying to photograph another artist’s work through glass. Lichtenstein said: ‘It portrays a painting under glass. It is framed and the glass is preventing you from seeing the painting. Of course, the reflections are just an excuse to make an abstract work, with the cartoon image being supposedly partly hidden by the reflections.’

Pop artists quoted from, and reused, imagery found in popular culture. The Reflections series can be seen as Lichtenstein’s wry comment on these techniques, as he reuses and re-presents his own past work.

Image: Roy Lichtenstein, Reflections on Girl 1990. ARTIST ROOMS Tate and National Galleries of Scotland. Lent by The Roy Lichtenstein Foundation Collection 2015. © Estate of Roy Lichtenstein/DACS 2023.

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