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Roy Lichtenstein’s Tate Retrospective

By Martin Gayford - 2013-02-20T10:39:00Z

Tate via Bloomberg

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Effectively, Lichtenstein’s career as a major artist began one day when his son David came home from school, complaining: All his friends’ fathers had proper jobs, whereas his own was a painter and couldn’t even draw.

To keep him quiet, Lichtenstein did a painting out of a children’s book: Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck. The latter is saying, “Look Mickey, I’ve hooked a big one.”

And Lichtenstein himself accidentally stumbled on a big idea: that the dots, solid colors, and simple outlines of commercial art could be used to make sophisticated and subtle paintings. It was a sudden leap into pop.

Left, "Masterpiece". This early picture, based on comic book illustration, seems like a tongue-in-cheek joke about the artist's own career