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This Flickr stream comparing the original comics panel Roy Lichtenstein “deconstructed” with his high art verions may just be the best such page we’ve yet seen. And where is Tony Abruzzo now, we wonder?

The assembler, David Barsalou, sent us a few more links:

His own Lichtenstein Project page

A blog post looking at the project

An article taking Lichtenstein’s borrowings to task.


  1. Lichtenstein remains one of the most overrated artists in history. I went to a retrospective of his work in SF a couple of years ago, fully expecting to walk away with a new appreciation of his work, and instead had the opposite experience — the retrospective made me see just how shallow, unimportant and creatively bankrupt his ideas are.

    Seeing the Barsalou project doesn’t improve my opinion any — without exception, the original panels, with their tiny size, their machine-produced colors and their blotted lines, look about ten thousand times better than Lichtenstein’s “fine art” reproductions.

  2. When Lichtenstein’s paintings were made the comics these panels came from were “only .10” and typically tossed out as trash, so his appropriation of the images is on par with using Campbell soup labels, relative to that time. Even the original artwork wasn’t given much respect, or to the artists themselves by the publishers who actually owned the product. For that matter, nothing prevented Abruzzo from painting his own “Lichtensteins,” or even beating him to the punch.

  3. NOT a fan on any level. how cool if he gave some of his $$ to the original artists. Never would happen, but at least there would be some respect there.

  4. NOT a fan on any level. how cool if he gave some of his $$ to the original artists. Never would happen, but at least there would be some respect there.

  5. An evil thief. If he rotted in filth, it would be too good for him.
    Correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t he somebody’s background artist in comic books in the 40’s and couldn’t make it in comics?

    I’ll bet he never got an inkwell award!

  6. Scott–

    His bio doesn’t mention anything about him having done comic book work, but someone else may be able to add more definitive info.

    Two other things that should be mentioned: (1) his work using comic book panels is one small part of his overall body of work, and (2) he expected to be hated for it. There’s a great magazine piece titled, (and I’m paraphrasing) “Roy Lichtenstein: Most Hated Artist in America?”.

    Whether you like his work or hate it, it certainly brings up a lot of interesting copyright issues.

  7. People (i.e. comic book fans) don’t seem to get Lichenstein. Much like Warhol, Roy’s work is asking the question, “What is art?” Where does someone draw the line between fine art and commercial? Between high-brow and low-brow? As David stated above, comics were seen by most as commercial trash. The lowest of the low. Did painting them on a canvas and hanging them on a gallery wall make them fine art? This was a heady question for pop artists, but it’s easy to see why younger folks or those unread in art history could see it as out right stealing, rather than a serious question about the nature of art. Our world is so awash in pop-culture that the line between high-brow and low-brow has mostly been erased. Possibly because of the questions Warhol, Lichenstein, and other pop-artists.

  8. Anyone who’s spent much time in contemporary art galleries will quickly figure out that you can justify literally any old shit by invoking the transformational effect of putting it in a gallery – and artists and curators routinely do. The fact that you can analyse something into the ground does not make it clever.

  9. Lichtenstein had the amazing ability to make every image he stole look a thousand times worse, as if it were traced and re-rendered by someone without the most rudimentary command of a brush.
    A few years ago I was reading a book from the NY Metro Museum of Art that actually credited this hack with “influencing the visual revolution of 1960’s Marvel Comics.” Pretty disgusting, especially when you consider the great artists who WERE responsible (Kirby and Ditko) got such a thorough shafting.

  10. I’m kind of surprised that the comic companies did not either: 1. Threaten to sue Roy’s butt or 2. use Roy’s swiped images to publicize their own comics, ie: use his swipes to their own advantage

  11. Lichtenstien derided comic book artists as talentless hacks while profiting by ripping them off outright. In the world of comic book publishing, when an artist copies the work of another artist it’s called swiping, or aping, unless it’s an obvious homage, it’s theft plain and simple, why is putting it on a canvas any different?
    his works should be sold, the money donated to A.C.T.O.R, (A Commitment To Our Roots, a non profit organisation dedicated to providing funds for aging comic book creators who lack health care and other essential things). then his “art” should be burned.

  12. @ Will Barnes

    I get him all right.

    He saw an image, copied it, and then made a money off of it. It was a sort of “look at this shit, if I do it its art!” It was mocking comics if anything.

    Most of the artist Lichtenstein ripped off probably weren’t living in the best conditions in the tail end of their lives, and he profited off of them.

    What part of this seems right?

  13. @Will Barnes: Your pretentious rambling about what Lichtenstein was trying to do with his art reminds me of the brilliant sketch I saw one time on the Benny Hill Show.

    Hill plays a so-called “avante garde” French director being interviewed by pseudo-intellectual Henry McGee about his latest “masterpiece”. McGee goes on to praise him for a large number of “symbolic” things he’d put in his film, only to be corrected on the real reason why they were included. Usually, the reason wound up being incredibly stupid and had nothing to do with his pretentious “interpretations” of what they meant.

    For example, he praises the director for making his film go from color to black and white because of its symbolic significance. The French director says the film only did that because he ran out of color film.

    He gushes about the dog that runs out into the middle of a scene, claiming it “symbolized” what a “dog’s life” the heroine had. The French director quickly corrects him and says that the dog wasn’t part of the script at all; it was just a stray that ran onto the scene, ruined the shoot, and destroyed camera equipment by peeing on it.

    He gushes about how the main character was written to have a lisp, and the French director goes, “No, no, no, it wasn’t part of the script; it was the actress that had a lisp.”

    Will Barnes, that is you, the Henry McGee character. In other words, a pseudo-intellectual who thinks that if he can talk pretentiously, he can convince himself and others that a cigar isn’t a cigar, but a deep expression of man’s burning desire to subjugate the natural world and leave a lasting imprint of his presence long after he’s become instinct.

    P.S.– I am not a “young folk” nor someone “unread in art history.” I’m someone who’s learned to think for herself and not believe something is great just because so-called “elitists” claim it’s brilliant or can speak in pretentious tomes about it.

  14. The Lichtenstein git reminds me of the equally shitty Ben Nicholson. Having moved to St. Ives, Cornwall with his wife Barbara Hepworth, he discovers an elderly resident making paintings of the ships he used to sail on. He then proceeds to rip of Alfred Wallis.
    When Alfred is dying in a poor house does Nick-it-Son help him out by organise a whip round of his beast friends or by holding an exhibition to raise funds? No, he fucks off back to London with a sack of cash. Also leaving behind Barbara with four children.
    I’d like to dig them both up and give them a kick in the fork.

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