Pop pioneer Roy Lichtenstein often drew inspiration from popular and commercialised themes for his artworks. Forms In Space was executed in 1985 and depicts a pop rendition of the American flag. The print was commissioned for the Philadelphia Institute of Contemporary Art’s annual theme-based fundraiser celebrating national emblems and morals.
In his signature style, Lichtenstein breaks down the flag’s elemental features into enlarged blue dots and red slanted lines. This mechanised interpretation of the flag explores the artifice of perspective and the limits of flatness. Abstracted and inserted into a cartoon narrative, Lichtenstein’s appropriated composition exemplifies his artistic wit.
Stripping the object of its original context and appearance, the artist reduces its implied uniqueness and individuality. By calling his depiction of the flag Forms in Space, the artist draws attention to society’s need for universal symbols.
Similar to I Love Libertyfrom a few years prior, Lichtenstein reimagines an omnipresent sign and accentuates its banality. The artist employs substitute forms that are indicative of consumerism and commercialism. In doing so, he also captures the cultural atmosphere of the 1980s. Ultimately, Lichtenstein’s configuration challenges reflexes and intuition. Forms in Space manifests a brand new symbol; a brilliant refashioning of an American icon.