By Christos Zampounis
The first time I had contact with Lichtenstein’s work was through a postcard, which in turn became a flyer, after sending it to more than one of the courtships I had at the time. It showed Superman telling a sweet blonde heroine: “Darling, I cannot belong to you, I belong to the Universe”.
If I remember correctly, I probably bought it at MOMA, (Museum of Modern Art) gift shop in New York, but it also may have been at the Georges Pompidou Center in Paris. Thirty-five years have since passed, but I can still visualize the powerful content of the image. Being especially fond of European comic books, and a fan of Liberatore, Enki Bilal , Hugo Pratt, Manara and Tardi, I enthusiastically discovered the American version of pop art, long before Andy Warhol and Jasper Johns.
In the years that followed, I was won over by other forms of art such as staged photography and sculpture, but I’ll never forgot those particular strips, or comic squares as they were called in English. In the case of Lichtenstein’s however, they were separate works, not part of a story, works that had an impact at exhibitions and auctions.
In order to perceive the actual figures, one of the paintings called “Nurse” that he made in 1964, recently sold for $ 95,365,000. There are, of course, more affordable works I have seen on specialized websites. For example, silkscreen prints, which cost around $6,000, or posters that cost around $300. As a talented artist, Lichtenstein tested his abilities, experimenting with pottery, sculpture and tapestries, while at the same time creating thousands of pencil drawings, one of which was “Sleeping Girl”. The 14.5cm x 14.5cm drawing was auctioned for 1,500,000 euros.
If most of his colleagues struggled to create a piece of work that was recognizable, without always succeeding, he claims that even elementary students wouldn’t have trouble identifying his images with his name, after an introduction of course. “Pop art” means “popular art” or folk art, and Roy Lichtenstein gained his inspiration from popular American culture, creating work that to this day remains youthful and up-to-date. “My paintings are the most artificial items that exist,” he used to reply in his interviews, mocking consumer society through his imaginary world, and reminding us a little of Lacan, who separated himself from the symbolic and real world.