Friday, September 11, 2009

Benday Dots

The use of Benday dots are one of Lichtenstein's signature references to commercial art. Benday dots have been likened to pointilism. It was a technique originally created by Benjamin Day, an American illustrator from the 19th century who published the original New York Sun- one of New York's primary newspapers from 1833 to 1950. Benday dots are always equal in size and distribution in certain areas- see the man in Sweet Dreams Baby. Benday dots were used in comic books to create optical illusions by using shades and tones of different colors layered on top of each other. Below is an image of the Cap of Barcelona, one of Lichtenstein's sculptures not unlike Brushstrokes, which belongs to the Portland Art Museum. In Cap of Barcelona Lichtenstein employs the Benday dots to create a sweeping motion across the sculpture.

In Brushstrokes Lichtenstein uses another commercial art printing reference, regularized stripes.
All of this awareness and suggestion of consumer culture puts Lichtenstein at the forefront of the pop art movement with Andy Warhol, whose Campbell soups are also in Word and Image.

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