As one of the leading figures of the Pop movement, Roy Lichtenstein was notorious for turning ordinary comic strip panels into wry, monumental pieces of art. This was his way of elevating commercial modes of expression into the realms of fine art. Referring to his work as ‘industrial painting’, he rooted his projects in appropriated and refashioned genres and images.
Lichtenstein’s Venetian School I of 1996 belongs to a portfolio featuring unforeseen and humorous cartoon variations on venetian blinds. The print transforms a historical movement, namely the Florentine Renaissance, into a static comic depicting an everyday object. Echoing the artist’s infamously reticent sentiments, the mint green blinds are here lowered nearly all the way down to the window sill. Lichtenstein allows the beholder to glance a streak of dark green grass at the bottom, hinting at a concealed nature scene beyond the shutters.
In line with the striking white composition of Venetian School IIof the same portfolio, Lichtenstein aims for subtlety in this work. The print presents a compilation of machine-made forms, exhibited according to the formal conventions of fine art. Due to its mechanical look, Venetian School I also functions as a critical commentary on modern industrial society and contemporary culture.