I usually dread Monday mornings, everything from waking reluctantly to the sound of my shrill iPhone alarm to the sardine situation of the 07:58. Fortunately last week I was able to break free from tradition and take a detour via the press view of the new Roy Lichtenstein Exhibition at the Tate Modern. He's probably one of those artists that made Secondary school lessons all the more fun, a break from the typical landscapes with his signature primary colours, bold lines and understandable subject matter. When you think of Lichtenstein, usually his more famous works spring to mind and previously I'd never thought to investigate any further, as the storyboards and plane crashes were enough for me. This exhibition sums up the breadth of his archive nicely, includes the pieces we all know and love as well as introducing us to some of his far less publicised works. I hadn't realised that it's been over twenty years since a major exhibition of his paintings and sculptures have been shown. You see the odd painting here and there but there's never a chance to understand the bigger story, making this a must-see if you're going to be in the capital at any point for the next three months. Another twenty years is too long to wait!
Bring the avid multi-tasker that I am, I somehow managed to take pictures on my camera, then phone, before editing for Instagram and eventually creating a Vine video. None of these things ruined my experience of the exhibition however, in between all of this social media business, I was listening to the audio guide and tapping notes on my phone. I've never thought to use an audio guide before, previously preferring to meander at my own pace and attempt to come to my own conclusions, but the experience has convinced me to change my habits and maybe interact a little more. The most interesting thing I learnt? Lichtenstein never painted from life, instead using anything from comic books to the works of Monet and Picasso as source material. Never intended to be a direct copy, his works were designed to make you question reality and the authenticity of reproduced images. Seeing the black and white series made me wonder about all of the imaginary things you might draw to make something understandable and the series of mirrors was particularly thought-provoking. No matter how accurate artist's have made it in the past, it's still never going to produce a reflection and Lichtenstein plays up to this fact with more of his signature dots and lines. Definitely one of my favourite rooms.
As per usual, what I loved the most was being able to explore the works close up and examine the uniform arrangement of Benday dots used to colour an image. I was perhaps too visibly excited at seeing the minute patterns unfold and seeing some sort of conceptual potential for future projects. These snaps are only a hint of the 125-odd works on display. Each room is organised thematically and it soon became clear how much of his archive I previously wasn't aware of, landscapes, sculpture and even nudes!
One of the most exciting things about visiting exhibitions is seeing what the shop has to offer afterwards and it's always a bonus when it stocks the postcards you want. I decided to spend the admission I saved on a few postcards, prints and a fridge magnet. Unless you can call childhood posters art, then I definitely have a bit of an unfortunate wall situation so I'm happy to kickstart my collection with these.
I also finally met the lovely girls from Helen Glory, after seeing their Instagram snaps and realising that they were at the same preview. Check out their take on Lichtenstein here. Are you planning to visit? It's a lovely walk from Somerset house on a nice day and the perfect way to make a weekend more productive. I may need to go back to buy the cushion covers...
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