After completing several paintings with identifiable comic-book characters in the early 1960s, Lichtenstein began to focus on subject matter taken from other forms of printed media. These canvases feature objects and actions that are deadpan renditions of consumer advertisements or rituals of domestic life.
Cup of Coffee is an idealized, simplified version of its real-life counterpart. But, at the same time, it is not a realistic image. Instead, it highlights the commonly accepted pictorial conventions that designers and advertisers adopt within media. For example, the simple black-and-white cross on the left side of the cup stands for reflection of light and shadow. Also, we know that that sort of double helix form stands for steam or aroma somehow when, in fact, our experience has nothing to do with what that form is. That's absolutely not what steam looks like, but we all accept it as steam within our visual lexicon.
Among many others in the show, images like this one show us the way in which images from the world are transferred in commercial printing in this coded, somewhat sophisticated graphic language. As Lichtenstein himself said, "I don't care what, say, a cup of coffee looks like. I only care about how it's drawn, and what, through the additions of various commercial artists, the reproduction machinery has gotten this image of a coffee cup to look like through the years."
15 hours 37 sec ago The Art Institute of Chicago CLOSING SOON—Supernatural Shakespeare
While Shakespeare’s title characters might have the most name recognition, the Bard’s meddling witches and mischievous faerie folk often steal the show. See this focused installation before it closes October 10.
18 hours 19 min ago The Art Institute of Chicago THURSDAY at 6:00—Join us for a tour of works in our collection presented in American Sign Language with voice interpretation.
1 day 15 hours ago The Art Institute of Chicago NOW OPEN—Humanism + Dynamite = The Soviet Photomontages of Aleksandr Zhitomirsky
The first exhibition in the post-Soviet world devoted to leading political artist Aleksandr Zhitomirsky offers a captivating portrayal of a satirist and loyal citizen who inventively furthered his country’s official causes across a tumultuous half-century.