The dots are rolling out after an unforgettable summer at the Art Institute. Over the past several months, we've come to see Roy Lichtenstein as far more than the creator of comics-inspired paintings such as Whaam! and Ohhh...Alright... We've discussed the artist's wide-ranging explorations (Chinese landscapes, American presidents, and Art Deco-influenced sculpture), told you what the dots are made of, and heard from a very tough critic. But, as Roy Lichtenstein: A Retrospective enters its final days in Chicago, we return to the iconic War and Romance paintings for which Lichtenstein is best known.
Oh, Jeff...I Love You, Too...But... captures a generic-looking blonde in a melodramatic moment. The painting succinctly conveys the anguish of that phone call, albeit in a distant, matter-of-fact way. While from a distance it may look mechanically produced like many comic panels, a closer look reveals just how much thought and skill went into hand-painting each line and benday dot. The painting seems to be both everyday and timeless, familiar and entirely new. These qualities—familiarity and surprise—are not unique to this piece, but are characteristic of many of the works we've discussed the past few months.
For those of us who've had the pleasure to be a part of the Art Institute's presentation of this exhibition, we feel conflicted like the blonde in the painting: we love works like Oh, Jeff..., but we know it's time to share Lichtenstein with the rest of the world.