Thoughts on the military and military activities of a diverse nature. Free-ranging and eclectic.

Saturday, June 23, 2007


This is coolbert:

Perhaps one of the most [the most?] famous works of art to come out of the genre' known as Pop Art is the painting "Torpedo Los". By the famous American pop artist Roy Lichtenstein.

"a prominent American pop artist [Lichtenstein], whose work borrowed heavily from popular advertising and comic book styles."

A painting with an interesting military dimension to it.

Lichtenstein is widely considered to be one of the greatest practitioners of the Pop Art scene. Often used military related themes in his Pop Art works.

"Large-scale, aggressive, military-action paintings were the first ones to be painted in Lichtenstein's final Pop Art style during the early 1960s. For several years, he continued to produce paintings of fighter pilots in action and machine gunners blasting at enemies."

A lot of folks I think have a problem with Pop Art as being a serious medium for artistic talent. Is thought to be primarily the reserve of the comic book. Drawings for juveniles not worthy of being considered as "high art" as the term is generally accepted.

This is so?

"Pop art is one of the major art movements of the twentieth century. Characterized by themes and techniques drawn from popular mass culture, such as advertising and comic books, pop art is widely interpreted as either a reaction to the then-dominant ideas of abstract expressionism or an expansion upon them."

There are two versions of "Torpedo Los". One of course is the original comic book frame. Lichtenstein later reproduced the frame in the format of a formal oil painting.

The PAINTING [as opposed to the original comic book frame] is large. Actually LARGER than life size.

"Oil on canvas............68 X 80 inches"

"It is no longer a frame in a picture story from a comic book, but has become a larger-than-life-portrait."

"The original idea for this painting came from a comic-book story called "Battle of the Ghost Ships!" that had been published shortly before Lichtenstein translated one frame into the picture reproduced here. The story told about a World War II German submarine that was doomed to torpedo the same ship over and over again and, in doing so, driving the submarine captain mad."

[sort of sounds like the legend of the "Flying Dutchman", does it not!!??]

Lichtenstein did put a lot of thought into the larger-than-life-size painting that emerged from the original cartoon frame.

"The inclusion of a staring single eye was frequently used by the artist for maximum effect."

"the captain's face fills most of the space with a raging--almost insane--expression. Unlike the works of most other artists, however, Lichtenstein draws the face with the least number of lines possible and almost without any shading except harsh black."

"The rippling black shadow down the right side of his face suggests that the captain is sweating inside the submarine and also that he is being lit by lamps shining from different directions."

"Adding to the tension in the face is the tight grasp of the captain's fingers around the handle of the periscope."

Was the purpose of Lichtenstein to portray this particular U-boat commander as the "bad German"? The maddened brute - - "tight grasp of the captain's fingers" - - "sweating" - - "raging--almost insane--expression" - - the "staring single eye"!


In my opinion, "Torpedo Los" is an outstanding art work, worthy of being inclusion with other forms of "high art".




Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lichtenstein's work is great stuff. Check out his piece "Preparedness." He also has public art. If you live in the New York area and are in town, there is a mural of his in between the shuttle to Grand Central and the north IRT platform.

And for "war art" check out the comics from days gone by. Gritty, tense stuff:

And my 2 favorites:

10:52 PM


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