The Self-Portraits of Roy Lichtenstein: Some Reflections and Re-Definitions

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Various paintings by Roy Lichtenstein, the most cerebral of the Pop artists, raise the issue of self portraiture. The artist intially presents himself with his palette before an easel. After this iconic image of the painter, his treatment of self portraiture becomes more complex. A well-dressed man with various inanimate heads will be examined as he asserts some kind of authorial presence by repeated appearances in a number of paintings. There are also abstract self portraits inspired by those of the Futurist painter, Severini. Most problematic of all is Lichtenstein's "Self Portrait" (1978)in which a blank mirror appears on top of a t-shirt. The sources of this self-effacing portrayal will be discussed. There are also depictions of the artist with a beret on in his studio considered as "self portrait." "Man Hit by the 21st Century," inspired by the comic figure of Dagwood Bumstead is also identified as a self portrait. Lichtenstein clearly liked to be photographed. Photographs by Rudy Burckhardt, Robert Mapplethorpe as well as portraits by Chuck Close and Andy Warhol establish that he enjoyed being portrayed. Lichtenstein clearly mocked the notion of an kind of unconscious revelations provided by a frontal self portait. I believe that if Roy Lichtenstein wanted to paint a self portrait, he would have. His self portraiture, as I intend to demonstrate, appears in many significant ways.


Keywords: Self-Portraits, Roy Lichtenstein
Stream: Meaning and Representation
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: Self-Portraits of Roy Lichtenstein, The


Dr. Carol Salus

Associate Professor, Division of Art History, Kent State University
Cleveland, Ohio, USA

Carol Salus is associate professor in the division of art history at Kent State University. She is co-editor of Out of Context: American Artists Abroad (Greenwood Press, 2004). Her writings appear in Art Bulletin, National American Biography, Jewish Art, Printmaking Today, Shofar, Journal of Comparative Literature and Aesthetics, Schatzkamer der Deutschen Sprache, Dichtung, und Geschichte, Analecta Husserliana, Ceramics: Art and Perception, Celestinesca, and others. She has twice been an invited speaker at the American Institute of Medical Education. She has been a speaker at Hebrew University (2006). She received her doctorate from The Ohio State University.

Ref: A07P0030