Brad '61: Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

Roy Lichtenstein, Author, Tony Hendra, Author Pantheon Books $21 (93p) ISBN 978-0-679-43097-1
Lichtenstein's well-known transformation of comic book panels and product ads into gallery paintings embodies both Pop Art's embrace of the pictorial culture of American advertising and the continuing efforts by modernist artists to transform what has traditionally been defined as ``nonart'' into art. Comic book artists, however, unimpressed by Lichtenstein's high-art historical pedigree, have long complained about his incursions into their graphical turf, claiming that his works appropriate the visual excitement of comics and garner critical acclaim that is snobbishly denied the comics medium itself. Here, Hendra reverses the process, taking Lichtenstein's ``elitist,'' almost canonized paintings of appliances, apparel ads and comic book panels and returning them to the status of mass-produced product, in the form of a narrative comic book. Using 93 of Lichtenstein's 1960s paintings, Hendra follows a down-and-out New Jersey artist, Brad (represented by the 1964 painting ``HIM''), detailing his love life and art world ambitions. The story is wry (Brad is desperate to show his paintings to Leo Castelli, Lichtenstein's own dealer) and rather silly (Hendra manages to fit all those paintings of weepy, jilted comic book blondes into the story line), but it is clever and amusing nonetheless. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 04/04/1994
Release date: 04/01/1994
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