Roy Lichtenstein first produced his iconic Crying Girl as an offset lithograph in 1963. A year later he recreated the composition as porcelain enamel on steel. Crying Girl draws on a romance comic titled Secret Hearts, published and circulated in the 1950s and 1960s. The work marks an early phase in Lichtenstein’s artistic career, characterised by glamorised depictions of female identity.
Crying Girl revises a trivialised moment in history accentuated by equal rights initiatives. This quintessential pop print ponders oppressive and highly romanticised ideals of femininity. Capturing a woman in emotional turmoil, Lichtenstein’s perfected depiction of struggle is mechanised through his rigid black outlines and trademark Ben Day dots.
Tears well from the woman’s fearful eyes as she lifts a manicured hand to her cherry red lips. Her gestures are exaggerated and manifest an immense pressure boiling below the surface. This sense of repressed tension is achieved through partial cropping; a technique Lichtenstein further evolved in his renowned Nudes of the 1990s.
Akin to Girl In Mirrorof 1964, Lichtenstein’s cartoon heroine dominates the canvas in order to highlight that her real-life version is lacking in empowerment. Crying Girl chronicles an era of societal change. Furthermore, it also functions as sophisticated commentary on unjust female representation throughout art history.