Roy Lichtenstein taught Industrial Design at the State University of New York at Oswego from the autumn of 1957 to 1960, and although his tenure was brief, there is a wealth of fact and fiction that can be expressed, through both visual art and historical research. My next door neighbor Helen, age 89, knew the Lichtensteins, and related a story to me that Isabel Lichtenstein (Roy’s wife), once caused a stir at the Oswego faculty wives’ dinner when she came dressed in red stockings!
Well, as any painter or writer will tell you, that is a story that needs to be told!
Word has it that Roy and family rented a house on West Sixth Street Street in the city of Oswego, and while living here and teaching at the college, he changed his style of painting from figurative to abstract expressionism, where he would apply broad swaths of color onto the canvas, wrap a rag around his arm, and drag it to get the desired results. He was also sketching comics copied from bubble gum wrappers, so a feel of this style would be most appropriate for some new work that I introduce.
I paint with acrylics on any substrate I feel most suitable. For this body of work, however, I think I would like to mirror Lichtenstein’s choices—closer to the bone, the better. For instance, if Roy painted on canvas, I would seek mid-twentieth century linens, canvas, sheets, etc. and stretch them as Lichtenstein might have. Likewise, and this truly would be a monumental change for me—Roy used oils and so shall I. Oils are a medium I have little to no experience with, which will make me feel how Lichtenstein must have felt between artistic realizations. That is, to say the least, uneasy.
While painting, I will research Oswego during the late 1950’s, and Lichtenstein’s connection to it. There is so much written about this man, which ignores his life during an incredibly formative period. From teaching industrial design during the day, and painting (sometimes) at night an already popular and over-accounted for abstract expressionism, Roy must have had some serious reflection during these years to so wildly change a style practically overnight.
Please stop back for original work by me, Ron Throop (AKA: PoH), while I seek rights to reproduce Roy’s images. Then we shall have a fine time interpreting history, where history can do no harm—that is, creatively.