Sweet Dreams Baby, the piece of the week here at Fifty Two Pieces has been the impetus for me reading a great deal about Roy Lichtenstein. There are any number of biographies out there, both short and long. In addition, there are interviews with him. In the one linked here, Lichtenstein is speaking with Daniel Sylvester in April 1997. He talks about the development of his paintings and the influences of various artists, e.g. Picasso and of his art professor Hoyt Sherman. This passage about how he developed the Brush-strokes series made me chuckle.
I had trouble with the Brush-strokes too: they looked like slices of bacon or something, they didn't really look anything like brush-strokes when I started. And I got this idea that I would use India ink on acetate and make a brush-stroke, and it made a very interesting brush-stroke, because the acetate kind of repels the ink. And then I would copy, I would draw pictures of those and it was just a way of getting an idea for a brush-stroke. It had more interest than I could get by trying to dream one up.
In an earlier interview with Michael Kimmelman from the New York Times, Lichtenstein was quoted as saying "I wouldn't believe anything I tell you." The interview is quite extensive and includes Lichtenstein comments about paintings and works of art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. In the interview he talks of his appropriation of Cezanne and Picasso paintings and his development as an artist.
Wishing that Lichtenstein were still alive so that I could see and hear him in an interview, I went over to Youtube and found a series of videos from a 1970's recorded interview with Lichtenstein in his studios and in Paris as well as a sequence at the beach. Here are the interviews. Watch them individually at seven to ten minutes minutes or all six in a row for an insight into this remarkable artist.
In this first part of the video series, Roy Lichtenstein talks of his life from going to school on the upper west side of Manhattan through his moving to Ohio and his years in the service. He does this while you watch him work in his studio. At one point, he talks about how he chooses to work on his creations, his style and which tools he uses. You're right there with the artist as he thinks through his project.
In part 3, watch Lichtenstein work on three paintings including his looking at his work upside down and in a mirror for different perspective on how the paintings are developing.
The fourth in the series of videos includes shots of Lichtenstein in Paris, at the beach and in his studio. There's also a portion where he talks about the Artist's Studio series again, this time focusing on his version of Matisse's Dance. Here's the link for the video.
At some point, Andy Warhol visited Roy Lichtenstein at his home on Long Island. Part 5 of this video series captures those moments in Lichtenstein's house and then his studio. You also get a glimpse of Warhol's puppy at the time. Lichtenstein later discusses his version of Matisse's Dance and how he creates lines.
In the last part of the video series, Lichtenstein discusses his work, his style and his lifestyle (the latter while playing chess). The video then shifts to a Pop Show at the Whitney with glimpses of Claes Oldenburg, Larry Rivers, James Rosenquist, Robert Rauschenberg – all looking so young!