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One of the biggest names in Pop Art, Roy Lichtenstein’s 11 Pop Artists series captures his celebrated, comic-strip visual style. He first gained worldwide public recognition for appropriating elements abstracted from comic strips. However, most of the themes he explored over the course of his career owed their visual syntax to styles and trends characteristic of fine art and high culture.
Lichtenstein’s growing expertise and mechanised aesthetic was consistent with the technical renaissance of American printmaking. The artist employed his iconic Ben Day dots and other regularised patterns, in order to achieve tone and texture. He applied thick black outlines for the purpose of defining the flat areas he saturated with bold primary colours. Embracing consumer culture, his schematised compositions were widely recognised by mass audiences.
In 1965, businessman Philip Morris sponsored three art portfolios. The commission was christened 11 Pop Artists. Each of the three portfolios contained 11 prints by emerging artists of the Pop Art movement. Morris intended to use the artistic collaboration to expand into new markets and reinforce his brand as part of avant-garde culture.
The project was also meant to promote vital components of American culture, symbolising freedom of expression and capitalism. Therefore, many of the prints featured in the 11 Pop Artists portfolios consist of saturated comic book imagery and serialised advertising. Roy Lichtenstein’s vibrant pop debut appears in all three volumes, signaling his meteoric rise into the realms of Post-War American art.
Lichtenstein experimented with various techniques and media prior to this collaboration. As a result, his creative contributions to the portfolio are regarded as a masterful culmination of the years he spent perfecting his printmaking skills.