Thursday, 2 May 2013

Take Back the Art!

Pop artist Roy Lichtenstein currently has a show on at the Tate Modern. While the public is intimately familiar with his work, what they may be unaware of is that many of his images were directly “appropriated” from comic artists like Irv Novick, Russ Heath, Jack Kirby, John Romita and Joe Kubert, who received no fee or credit.

Is this an act of brilliant recontexturalisation?  The elevation of commercial “low” art to “high” art? Art world snobbery? Artistic licence?  Gallery shortsightedness? Cultural annexation? Or something else entirely?

This show brings together real comic-book artists and other “commercial artists” –illustrators, designers, cartoonists – to ask these kinds of questions and share their views, via their work.

Each artist was asked to “re-reappropriate” one of the comic images Lichtenstein used: to go back to the source material and twist it into something interesting and original, and in the process to comment on the act of appropriation.

Money raised from selling prints and originals will be donated to the Hero Initiative, which helps down-on-their-luck comic book veterans:


I took some shots at the Image Duplicator team meeting at Orbital Comics last night. (The framed images in the background are from the current and most excellent Andrew Hickenbottom show).

Below, Left to Right: Jason Atomic, Rian Hughes, Chris Thompson, Mark Blamire and Dave Gibbons.

1 comment:

  1. Don't know if I could be that critical of Lichtenstein, my thoughts are that the commercial value of art depends on the context it occurs. There's no avenue for comic artists in the "high art" market, whereas those with access to that market, you know, the folk who went to school with the Telegraph or Dail Mail art critic can exploit it fully. Lichtenstein's deliberate plagiarism at least highlights the hypocrisy of the esoteric art world, that's a good thing isn't it? He also gives wider exposure to the work of some artists, even if some people can't tell good work, even when they have it shoved in their face.


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