Monday, October 20, 2014

Pop Art (pt. 5)

If it's pop culture we're dealing with here, then I don't need to say anything regarding the developing style of graphic art in the '40s and '50s.  Comic books today still carry such a significant relevance in society that we're almost drowned in them.  I can no longer count how many superhero movies Hollywood has produced over the past decade.  Clearly, this is a medium that has embedded itself into the fabric of social culture today.  Images such as this, the Drowning Girl, therefore, are still today instantly distinguishable.
In 1963, Roy Lichtenstein produced this painting, a rip-off of an actual panel in a real comic series.  He changed a few things, however, and made the image his own; and today it is considered one of the staple inventions of Pop Art.  It features the kind of typical melodramatic action common to most genres of graphic art fiction; a girl with blue hair is drowning in the ocean or some other stormy body of water (true to the genre, we can't see anything else because this is a single frame of what would ordinarily be a string of images, telling a story—I trust all of my readers are avid comic book fans).  We can see tears beginning to stream down her cheeks, a true "damsel in distress" as per the superhero stories.  A word bubble, the most famous element of comic book fiction, appears at the top with the following melodramatic lines of the perishing girl: "I don't care!  I'd rather sink—than call Brad for help!"  The exaggerated drama and overemotional theatricality of such a frame is characteristic—almost archetypal—of the genre which Lichtenstein is here recreating and elevating to the art world (and the girl's blue hair, too, haha!).  As a product of the culture of the day, this recognizable image bears implicit connotative significance in the eyes of viewers everywhere who get the reference; and that's definitive Pop Art.

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