Roy Lichtenstein’s Brushstrokes

Serendipity in the Army

Roy Lichtenstein was inducted into the US Army and sent to England just before Christmas in 1944. Although his induction interrupted his studies at the Art Students League, Lichtenstein’s time in London had a profound influence on his work.

While In London he was able to study the works of great painters like Cezanne and Lautrec and continue to draw and paint.

One day he serendipitously bought a book about Chinese painting that informed much of his later work, including the Brushstroke Series and Chinese Landscapes.

Roy Lichtenstein
Landscape in Fog, 1996

The Brushstrokes Series

After a period, during the early 1960s, during which he reproduced works by Picasso, Cezanne and others, Lichtenstein began working on his Brushstrokes Series.

Roy Lichtenstein
Brushstrokes, 1965

The Brushstrokes Series was inspired by a picture in a Strange Suspense Stories comic book, showing an artist who was emotionally drained after finishing a painting.

Dick Giordano
The Painting, 1964 was the inspiration for Lichtenstein’s Brushstroke Series

The Brushstrokes Series is also a nod to the abstract expressionists who came before him and whose work was becoming overshadowed by Pop artists like Lichtenstein.

“You think it’s a picture of a brush stroke,” Lichtenstein said in an NPR interview. “And that’s a kind of absurd thing to do. It has that built-in absurdity, and that’s the reason I like it.”

Although he only painted the Brushstrokes Series for a year or two, beginning in 1965, Lichtenstein incorporated the brushstrokes themselves into much of his subsequent work. In much the same way the he continued to incorporate Ben Day dots into his work, Lichtenstein also used the Brushstrokes as part of his inimitable style.

Brushstroke on Canvas, available at Surovek Gallery, is a wonderful example of the coming together of Lichtenstein’s mature elements of style.

Roy Lichtenstein
Brushstroke on Canvas, 1989

Artists of the World against Apartheid

In 1983, the United Nations Special Committee Against Apartheid helped to establish an organization called Artists of the World against Apartheid. 1983 was an especially violent and unsettling time in South Africa, and it would take six more years of unrest for Nelson Mandela to be released from prison and nearly ten more years until Mandela was elected president.

Lichtenstein was one of many great artists including Robert Rauschenberg, Wolf Vostell and Julio Le Parc who contributed work, published by Galerie Maeght-Lelong in Paris, to raise awareness and funds to benefit the committee.

Roy Lichtenstein
Against Apartheid, 1983

Against Apartheid, also available at Surovek, was Lichtenstein’s contribution to the cause, depicting brushstrokes in a mirror, an invitation to reflect upon the issues of apartheid.

Roy Lichtenstein at Surovek Gallery

Please contact us if you would like more information about Brushstroke on Canvas, Against Apartheid or any of the works of Roy Lichtenstein, and the other fine artists, available in our gallery.

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