Roy Lichtenstein began his artistic career as an abstract expressionist painter exploring ideas of spontaneity during the nuclear crisis. As the world slowly began advancing towards prosperous times, his art grew into cartoonish social commentary. Lichtenstein’s creative practice of the late 1960s played an active role in elevating post-war American art to international prominence.
During the war, Lichtenstein was drafted and trained as a pilot. The artist later often explored aeronautical themes in his works, featuring pilots and explosions on his canvases. Similar to his fiery Whaam! and As I Opened Fire, Lichtenstein’s 1968 Salute To Aviation is a nod to the artist’s own military experiences.
Salute To Aviation is an eruption of strong colours and forms, fixed on a vertical canvas divided into two main panels. Positioned at center are yellow and crimson shapes adorned by grey Ben Day dots, resembling the elementary parts of an aircraft. On the left, Lichtenstein adds a heroic cartoon depiction of a male figure all suited up for combat. The angularity of the man’s profile is offset by the curvilinear lines symbolising the propeller of his airplane. Salute To Aviation is amasterfully orchestrated composition, highly demonstrative of Lichtenstein’s artistic complexity and personal introspection.