Landscapes, Moonscapes, Seascapes Roy Lichtenstein
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Roy Lichtenstein was amongst the most influential and innovative American artists of the post-war period. He was an aficionado of Pop Art, rising to prominence for his impactful cartoon imagery.
Lichtenstein skillfully retained his characteristic pop aesthetic throughout his career. What’s more, he advanced the scope of his formal vocabulary by continually engaging new and disparate influences.
Central to Lichtenstein’s practice was parody, which enabled the artist to engage with his often appropriated source materials from an ironic distance. He frequently revised the language of popular and commercial culture. At the same time, he also probed the boundaries of what fine art has been considered throughout history and what it could become in the future.
The landscape genre was a topic he returned to with regularity. The historical style encapsulated Lichtenstein’s enduring interest in the cliché infused properties of art. He evolved and expanded his vibrant Landscapes, Moonscapes and Seascapes for over three decades.
Landscapes, Moonscapes and Seascapes showcases a calculated and artificial take on naturalistic settings. The striking project features several individual editions and autonomous portfolios. One of the main aesthetic goals of the sequence is to mimic techniques of mass-production. That being said, the vast series contains remarkably detailed mixed-media works, executed by hand and perfected through machines.
The vivid prints in this expansive sequence consider the contradictory tendencies of representation and perception. Lichtenstein’s intricate landscape renditions reference Abstract Expressionism, Impressionism, Fauvism, Pointillism, German Romanticism and Chinese Master painters.
Landscapes, Moonscapes and Seascapes also serves as a well of self-referentiality. The printed studies of shimmering and shifting light parallel the artist’s Reflections, Water Lilies and Mirrors series. The artworks push the real and the visible to the edges of abstraction in line with Lichtenstein’s Brushstroke Faces and Seven Apple Woodcuts.
Moreover, the landscape prints play with ideas of creating and seeing, similar to the artist’s Haystacks and Cathedral series. Ultimately, the sequence presents dreamlike interpretations of the natural world comparable to Lichtenstein’s Surrealist series.
The artist recreates landscapes, moonscapes and seascapes in an exceptionally economical manner. While some scenes are strongly representational, many of the compositions are entirely abstracted.
Lichtenstein keeps the conventional subject matter at arm’s length. Therefore, the prints are distilled to the utmost basic and essential pictorial elements. Rather than focusing on the bigger picture, the artist invests in the poignant details he plucks from his chosen panoramas.
Accordingly, the scenic nature portraits in this series stylise organic forms through exaggerated curves, mass groupings of dots, bold lines and solid bands of colour. Lichtenstein communicates subtly nuanced areas of light and shadow using his advanced graphic language coupled with overlays, stencils and experimental materials.
The sequence contains brilliant superimpositions of pigments, unexpected photo collages and prismatic montages. Lichtenstein’s fictitious nature scenes evidently aspire to achieve optical illusions and unified imagery.
In revising particular attributes of landscape painting, the artist harnesses the universal appeal that painterly motifs hold in the human psyche. Landscapes, Moonscapes and Seascapes honour the stylistic precedents of the genre by recreating the atmospheric effects that characterise it.
However, the series simultaneously aims to update the art historic legacy as it employs an entirely contemporary visual lexicon. Lichtenstein encourages viewers to consider just how conditioned creative conception is. He ultimately prompts the public to question art’s time-binding properties.
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