Roy Lichtenstein (1923-1997)

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Finger Pointing, 1973; Serigraph on wove paper; Numbered 102/300 lower right verso; Stamped © Copyright 1973 By Roy Lichtenstein Printed At Styria Studio in black ink, lower left verso; Published by Experiments in Art and Technology, Inc.; Catalog Raisonne: Corlett: 126; Size - Sheet 12 x 9"; Unframed.

"I'm interested in what would normally be considered the worst aspects of commercial art. I think it's the tension between what seems to be so rigid and cliched and the fact that art really can't be this way." - Roy Lichtenstein

Roy Fox Lichtenstein (1923-1997) was an American Pop artist, who in the 1960's along with Andy Warhol, Jasper Johns, Claes Oldenburg, James Rosenquist, and others, became a leading figure in the in the emerging new Pop art movement. He was first recognized for his utilization and re-appropriation of a single pane from a comic strip, that both documented and parodied the resulting composition. He used bright primary colors (red, yellow, blue, and occasionally green) that were heavily outlined in black; and he borrowed techniques from the print industry in order to produce paintings. Instead of shades of color, Lichtenstein used either close diagonal black lines or the Benday dot, a method by which primary colors of dots are printed onto a white ground and then when viewed from a distance show a density of tone. Roy Lichtenstein's artwork is collected by all major world art museums and his most expensive painting "Masterpiece," sold in January 2017 for $165 million.

"Finger Pointing," 1973 is derived from Roy Lichtenstein appropriating an iconic symbol of American Nationalism and militarism: Uncle Sam, who had appeared on recruitment posters during World Wars I and II. The posters featured Uncle Sam wearing his trademarked colors of red, white, and blue and pointing his right index finger outward. Below him was the text "I WANT YOU FOR U.S. ARMY." Lichtenstein cropped away all but Sam's coat jacket and white shirt cuffs, wrist, and hand with extended index finger. The hand was colored using Lichtenstein's Benday dots; and the assertive gesture is now much more aggressive and confrontational; with the outstretched finger pointing directly at the viewer. By changing the color of the jacket from blue to black and maintaining a classic business attire white shirt, the image is more generalized. The red ground overlaid with the black and white figure makes the image highly charged and activates the composition. Uncle Sam, by the time this print was made, had already been re-purposed by advertising firms, civil rights activists, and anti-war demonstrators; and thus was no longer only associated with only military recruitment.

Lichtenstein had initially designed the Finger Pointing image for a poster for the 1964 exhibition of American Pop Art in Stockholm, Sweden. For this print (created to raise funds for the acquisition of works of art by artists working in New York during the 1960's that were to be donated to the Moderna Museet, Stockholm) Lichtenstein removed the text from the poster and reduced the size. "Finger Pointing" is an exceptional Pop Art work of art by Roy Lichtenstein, and a great addition to any collection!

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