Tuesday, October 09, 2007



Sounds like an improvement to me.

(Quote in title is a paraphrase from Walt Whitman's poem, A Song for Occupations)


Anonymous said...

Prepare yourself for a deluge of hate from Lichtenstein fans...

Though I admit that I snickered a bit at the thought of the watchman's addition to the art, I recognize that I wouldn't find it so funny had it been artwork which I felt had some value ( the hammer to the statue of David's toe for example ).

On the other hand, perhaps the night watchman was simply an avant garde artist in his own right, truly exploring the often repeated modern art mantra that 'anything can be art'.

spacejack said...

Well I wouldn't worry about it too much... after all, the night watchman didn't write on the original.

David Apatoff said...

Jim and Spacejack, as you may have guessed, Lichtenstein is definitely NOT my favorite artist.

a girl said...

Adding "Reggie" to anything will certainly class it up a bit.

David Apatoff said...

True, but then again, so will adding "tushee."

Nell Minow said...

Another chapter for your "Artists in Love" series?

Anonymous said...

WHAT? You don't like Roy?
Oh, that Roy. me neither.....

You are truly a hoot Mr Apatoff. Whodda guessed in 1967. What did I know?


leifpeng said...

Let me throw the firecracker in the campfire:

Why wouldn't you like Lichtenstein, David? If anything, he did more to legitimize comics as "real art" than any actual comic artist ever has ... if only by virtue of making, first the elites, then the broader public see something that was generally considered to be disposable pop culture trash in a different light.

Isn't that the beauty of the Pop Art movement? If we were to draw a long line through the history of the American public's awareness of comics as an artform, wouldn't Lichtenstein's paintings be pretty much at the starting point of that line?

And if we're honest about it, didn't the vast majority of comic artists who were working at the time that Lichtenstein appropriated his first batch of panels actually feel kind of embarrassed about their line of work?

At best, from all the interviews I've read with that generation of artists, most saw their own artwork as entirely disposable commercial art.

I think Lichtenstein's success made a lot of them sit up and say, "Whaaa...?"

Whether Lichtenstein is or isn't your favourite artist, doesn't he deserve credit for his role in making art accessible to the masses?

Let the fireworks begin. ;-)

David Apatoff said...

Leif, if we put aside Lichtenstein's socioeconomic and cultural significance or the intellectual validity of the pop art movement, and look only at the quality of his pictures, my personal view is that they are just plain awful. And that's what matters most to me.

If we focus instead on the socioeconomic significance of his work, the lesson I draw from his example is that if you plunder the work of more talented but underpaid artists (thanks for the great reference, spacejack)and put it on big canvases in fancy frames, it suddenly becomes worthy of the attention of the guardians of high culture.

In my view, Lichtenstein's work belongs in a business school text book as a case study on how to build a highly lucrative career from a single mildly creative idea. And believe me, I do admire him for that. The fact that his work is in the art books simply shows how a silly and decadent culture can't distinguish between art and business.

Anonymous said...

God bless the guard for adding a hint of feeling and originality!

I'm reminded of the East Wing Gallery guards at the Smithsonian in DC who have to tell patrons looking at the ghastly "Stations of the Cross" (boneheaded orange and white canvases as large as they are unframed) that "no taxpayer money was used for these paintings".

The Lichtenstein guard opted to add value instead. lol

-lee moyer

leifpeng said...

Hi David;

Just now finally checking back for your reply ... but I'm afraid I'm going to have to defend Lichtenstein some more.

If you accept that perception is reality then at the time when Lichtenstein "plundered the work of more talented but underpaid artists", he was really drawing attention to the beauty in what was perceived almost universally as the lowest kind of pop culture trash - including by many of those artists who produced it.

Whether he had some ulterior motive... I don't know. As I've pointed out before, I don't have the book learnin' that most of your commentors do.

But from personal experience, first as a kid growing up on a steady diet of comics - then as a professional illustrator who is, even to this day, asked to give his work "that Lichtenstein look", I feel he did a great deal to legitimize comic art as something dynamic, graphic, artistic and visually valuable in the eyes - not just of the gaurdians of high culture - but more importantly, of the general public.

And no comic artist in the history of the medium has accomplished that to even half the extent that Lichtenstein did.

But in a long and circuitous way, they - and the medium - and even I - have benefitted in innumerable ways because Lichtenstien reshaped the public's perception of that reality.

Isn't that the most important role an artist can play? Affecting the public's perception? Revealing profound beauty in the everyday world?

Maybe that wasn't his intention? ...but this is my gut instinct.

Anonymous said...

It seems, David, that by your own admission you value execution and aesthetic over intent. Do you only dismiss Lichtenstein, or do you disregard the whole pop art movement? You support them intellectually; but how about pop art's validity artistically?

I find it interesting that you claim Lichtenstein was only looking to make a buck through the "business" practice of reproduction...when making money through reproduction is EXACTLY what the original creators of the images were hoping to do. Yet you defend them.

2D visual art is not art because of how high the quality of the image is. If it is in-line with the intent of the message attempted to be conveyed (and the message is a thoughtful and creative one), then a 5 minute drawing in crayon on a resturaunt placemat can easily be as artistically worthy as a Rembrandt.

After all, art is not just a pretty picture (Or else every hotel in America is housing gems, and numerous people are sitting on their living room couches underneath "art"), but rather what it says, and what effect it produces. Popart was very subversely effective at redefining perceptions of art. Who would've thought a pulp image would hang in the MOMA?

Defacement of art is never OK. If one chooses to make a statement with someone's peice they should have the decency to create (of their own abilities) a reproduction first...as Lichtenstein had done.