Roy Lichtenstein
Portable Radio, 1962

Artwork Info

Artwork title
Portable Radio
Artist name
Roy Lichtenstein
Date created
oil on canvas with aluminum and leather
17 1/4 in. × 20 in. (43.82 cm × 50.8 cm)
The Doris and Donald Fisher Collection at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
© Estate of Roy Lichtenstein
Permanent URL
Artwork status
On view on floor 5 as part of Afterimages: Echoes of the 1960s in the Fisher and SFMOMA Collections

Audio Stories

What is Pop art?

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What is Pop Art?  



The idea of painting being the tool of monopoly capitalism is what Pop Art is about. 



That’s artist Roy Lichtenstein recorded in 1968. Curator John Zarobell. 



The early sixties is when Pop Art really made its moment. And if you look at a work like Radio, from 1961, this is a kind of fundamental Pop Art piece.  



Hold on a second. Before we talk about pop art pieces, like Radio, let’s ask that question again. 



What is Pop Art?  



Here’s what Pop Art wasn’t. For years after World War II, the New York art world was dominated by Abstract Expressionism— big, gestural paintings about the depths of human experience. Pop art was a reaction to that weighty self-importance.  



Pop Art represents a generational shift where artists aren’t really seeking to bare their souls or anyone else’s through the work of art.  



Instead, artists like Andy Warhol, James Rosenquist, and Lichtenstein are taking images like comic strips or advertisements and using them to critique pop culture. John Zarobell.



And at this time, remember that there were still ads that were hand-drawn, and billboards that were hand-painted.  

Lichtenstein’s Radio is very interesting because while it’s all hand painted, the painting itself has a strap on it so that it is a radio object. The painting itself becomes a kind of radio. And there’s a bit of a joke there between the image that you’re seeing and the thing that it’s supposed to represent.  

Products and advertisements littered America’s cultural landscape, but Fine Art objects were still thought of as separate from this noise. By scaling up commercial images and presenting them in galleries, Lichtenstein blurred the boundaries between high culture and low. 

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