Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Saturday, December 08, 2021

Does anyone else see the irony in the warning message that greets visitors to the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation website?

The contents of this site are for personal and/or educational use only. Neither text nor photographs may be reproduced in any form without the permission of the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation.

This, for a body of work that’s essentially ripped off from the efforts of countless comic-book artists. It was okay for Lichtenstein to “repurpose” this imagery, but not for others to make further use of it?

It seems hypocritical, and it is. And the root of that attitude is in the way such acquisition art is defined:

[Lichtenstein] took images that had no aesthetic content. You could open a romance magazine if you were a teenage girl or a war comic if you were a teenage boy, or flip through the ads in the back of a New York tabloid and see images that your eye would just skip over. He took these images, copied them, at first rather crudely, but then with fabulous elegance, and made these images deserving of being scanned or attention paid to them equal to the art in museums. And he really broadened what we saw as and thought of as art.

In other words, Lichtenstein’s work is valid because it elevated non-art into high art — dismissing the idea that the comics artwork was deserving of consideration as art in its own right. Therefore, if someone were to do the same to Lichtenstein’s work… You guessed it: That would redefine Lichtenstein’s pieces as lower-grade raw material for the next iteration created from it. In effect, they would be downgraded.

It’s a vicious circle, in a way. Obviously, the Web is ground zero for today’s arguments over dissemination and repurposing of creative material; it touches everything from musical mashups to digitized books. A recent flareup involves renewed attention for Richard Prince and his photography presentations, many manipulated from mass-market advertisements.

Incidentally, I “borrowed” the dog image here from the rather extensive “Deconstructing Roy Lichtenstein” webpage exhibit, which gives side-by-side comparisons of source material and artsified output. On a smaller scale, it’s a full-circle presentation.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 12/08/2021 08:01:22 PM
Category: Creative
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