Crying Girl (1964) – Roy Lichtenstein

I have had a real sucky couple of weeks. Long days, frayed emotions, stress, sometimes hurting people around me through the pressure…so tonight’s post is dedicated to those who had to put up with me along the way, and those who who caused me all that anguish as there have been a few times I have been this crying girl…although I probably didn’t look nearly as attractive as Lichtenstein’s blonde bomb shell, as I had mascara streaked down my cheeks, sat there snivelling and feeling sorry for myself.

I don’t usually point out the date of the artwork in the title, if at all, but Lichtenstein did two works of the same name, the first in 1963, therefore I felt it slightly important to point out this is the later, and more appealing piece in my opinion.

Lichtenstein is hailed as a leading figure of pop art, along with Warhol, Johns and Rosenquist. Lichtenstein particularly defined the area of pop art through parody. Now, I don’t think it’s a huge secret that I am a geek…if you’ve read any of my other blogs you know I can wax lyrical on anything from constellations…Greek myth and the artistic merit of mathematical equations, so it shouldn’t come as a shock that the comic strip stylings float my boat.

The art works are often a tongue in cheek parody, but a precise composition inspired by an actual comic strip. The process Lichtenstein went through to produce these pictures might look simple in the outset, but it’s actually a complex process. Crying Girl is ceramic enamel painted on to steel, yet you could be forgiven in thinking it looks just like the cheap comic paper and poor dot matrix printing through the benday dots. This technique has eliminated any trace of the artists hand in the work, reinforcing the feel of a mechanically produced print, this in turn echoes the feel of the sentimental, glamorous and equally mechanical idealisation of the “all American girl”.

The original comic strip that Crying Girl was taken from is shown below, and what Lichtenstein masterfully captures is the moment of drama with the premise removed, allowing the viewer to bring to mind their own feelings on why the girl is crying. The comic was “Secret Hearts” no.88 issued June 1963 by DC comics.

The colour pallet and stylisation of the original has been enhanced and the picture cropped to give you just the face of the girl, focusing the viewer merely on the emotion and her looks.

There is no doubt that the woman is the beautiful damsel in distress and certainly reinforces the plastic image of the Hollywood silver screen.

Pop art was a reaction to the advertising and imagery which was coming about through the new liberation of an era, and no matter how you feel about pop art, I think it’s hard to deny that this picture does not evoke some kind of response from even the most hardened viewer.


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