About This Artwork

Roy Lichtenstein
American, 1923-1997

Brushstroke with Spatter, 1966

Oil and magna on canvas
172.7 x 203.2 cm (68 x 80 in.)

Barbara Neff Smith and Solomon Byron Smith Purchase Fund, 1966.3

© Estate of Roy Lichtenstein

Roy Lichtenstein rose to prominence at the beginning of the 1960s and became one of the best-known practitioners of Pop Art. His brightly painted canvases depicting everyday objects, as well as scenes of war and romance culled from the pages of contemporary comics, were rendered in stylized black outlines and hand-painted Ben Day dots that mimicked the commercial printing process. Thus he seemed to elevate what was often seen as low art—both its quotidian, affective subject matter and its visual terms—into high art. This was never simply a straightforward process of reversal, however, and by mid-decade Lichtenstein began to focus on subjects that reflected his lifelong interest in art historical themes. Brushstroke with Spatter, from the Brushstroke series (1965–67), is a wry commentary on the bravura of midcentury Abstract Expressionism. Here Lichtenstein combines the gestural sweep of Willem de Kooning’s brushwork with the rhythmic drips typical of Jackson Pollock. He isolates and magnifies his stroke and spatter against a ground of Ben Day dots, reproducing the conventionally painterly elements as flatly as possible with no trace of emotion or texture. This deadpan rendering is not purely comic, but also establishes a tension key to the work’s success as an abstract painting in its own right, with grand scalar play and dramatic cropping, intensity of color, and the optical pulse of the dotted ground.

View mobile website