Look Mickey, 1961
National Gallery of Art, Washington DC, Gift of Roy and Dorothy Lichtenstein in Honor of the 50th Anniversary of the National Gallery of Art
oil on canvas
Uncomfortable with the psychologically charged style of abstract expressionism, Roy Lichtenstein turned outward to the popular culture of his day for inspiration. Considered by the artist to be his first pop art painting, Look Mickey is based on an illustration in a children’s book that Lichtenstein may have read to his sons. He enlarged the image, simplified its composition, and outlined flat areas of primary colors with a bold, thick line. The artist also painted small dots on Mickey’s face and the whites of Donald’s eyes. These dots would become his signature, and were much like the ink dots of the Benday printing process, a popular, inexpensive way to produce images for comic books and magazines in the sixties. Pop art dissolved the boundaries between high art and popular culture, removing art from its pedestal—a radical move that was both denounced and acclaimed.