Two decades after the publication of Allen Ginsberg’s 1972 poetry collection, The Fall Of America, Roy Lichtenstein was entrusted with illustrating a selection of poems from the book. Ginsberg was a central member of the Beat Generation, a literary movement responding to changes in American culture and politics in the post-war era.
Une Fenêtre Ouverte Sur Chicago by Lichtenstein is a vignette-style illustration of Ginsberg’s poem “An Open Window On Chicago”. The original poem is a detailed flashback of the protests erupting all over the city during the late 1960s, in response to recent political and civil injustices. It is also an account of the repercussions that followed the event. This was a time characterised by increased brutality, violation of human and constitutional rights, street demonstrations and a later court trial of demonstrators.
Une Fenêtre Ouverte Sur Chicago provides a comprehensive, if dreary, overview of contemporary American society. Lichtenstein’s traditional blue, white, brown and black elements portray a cubist vision of the city under attack, suffocated by the industrial reach and prevailing warfare. A not so subtle, in fact, monumental white dollar sign is superimposed over the whole composition, spotlighting the real catalyst of America’s decline.