The Self-Portraits of Roy Lichtenstein: Some Reflections and Re-Definitions
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
Dr. Carol Salus
Associate Professor, Division of Art History, Kent State University