The famous—and deceased—pop artist Roy Lichtenstein doesn’t get a lot of love from a certain contingent in the comics world. In fact, a lot of people flat-out hate Roy Lichtenstein.
It gets down to creativity, and money. Lichtenstein, as dictated by his pop art aesthetic, took everyday images and inserted them into the highbrow art world, and was celebrated for it. Yet he wasn’t taking, as Warhol did, corporate imagery like a Brillo Pads box or a Campbell’s soup can. Lichtenstein was taking—copying, often exactly—images created by contemporary working artists. John Romita draws a frame in the ’60s—one frame out of a comic book that runs for dozens of pages—and is compensated modestly for it. Lichtenstein copies Romita’s frame and it commands thousands, later millions of dollars. It’s hung in fancy galleries and museums. Is John Romita cited for his original work? No.
Sotheby’s is about to auction off a Lichtenstein painting that is based on a Ted Galindo frame, and the auction house expects it to go for a price “in the region of $50 million.” Author and comics editor Scott Edelman is not a Lichtenstein fan. He lays it down at his blog:
It would have been nice to see a mention of Galindo in the ArtNet story about that coming sale. … I believe every article about one of these Lichtensteins should include a reference to the source material, the same way I feel gallery operators and museum curators owe it to history to include those references in their literature and wall placards. They fail in their duties whenever they don’t. All artists deserve respect. And not just the ones whose works sell for $50,000,000.
If you’re a Lichtenstein hater—or interested in becoming one—you should visit the Deconstructing Roy Lichtenstein Flickr page, where David Barsalou tirelessly documents the never-credited sources behind Lichtenstein’s zillion-dollar masterpieces.