Lichtenstein's Theft and the Artists Left Behind


I was actually injured on the job working for a VERY wealthy exclusive resort fire district so I get permanent disability without a good pension. My mistake, I didnt report right away fearing my years of management and not very reusable rescue education would be wasted if I only had a temporary injury leaving me stranded from future promotions.
I dont know if we, as a global society, need to protect people from having their creative works used even in a for-profit re-mix, especially if the rights are almost universally re-sold and lost to authors, most people are not able to do one work and ride it to wealth while excluding the majority of authors like is possible since the dawn of the era of reproducable media.
What we do need to do is change the social contract from either be wealthy and be treated as a prince with a low low special capital gains and inheritance tax rate(edit)find a wealthy patron or patrons(/edit) or work in a sufficiently good paying job and never stop for any reason or die homeless.
Instead society should safety net you to take risks or even just get sick, even if you are not wealthy, without fearing starvation, lack of medical care, or homelessness.


The original comic art is IMHO much better art than Lichtenstein’s fairly ham-handed copies. I never quite understood if that was supposed to be part of the pop-art point of his schtick, or what?


Roy got four million dollars for it

Did he? Wikipedia says the Tate bought it for ÂŁ3940, and they still have it.


How was he victimised?

I went through the site and while the sources are clear, I feel that Lichtenstein did not just straight up copy the source material. There were maybe two where I felt it was more of a copy than a modification. The Wham! one, I am pasting those here for people to compare. The source is linked in the post I am replying to.


To me, Lichtenstein had a clear style. In most every case he simplified the lines, exaggerated the contrast, used a restricted color palette across most of his art. There’s a flatness to his style often not in the original art, and more of a commercial aesthetic than a comic book aesthetic.

It’s sad the original artists he was riffing off of did not get at least get a fee or small percentage of the sale, but I don’t think there is any legal reason that he would need to give that; though certainly it would have been the right thing to do.


“Victims” ???

I wonder how the vicitms of Dorothea Lange feel.



I can’t believe I actually remembered her name (± an o or two) on the first try.


I really like Lichtenstein’s work. The colors and bold lines attracted me at an early age.

Like all modern art, I think you have to see this in the context of the time and the movement. The concept of the Pop Art movement was continuing the evolution of Modern Art, that anything could be art.

Pop Art focused on the popular culture of the time, showing what we found mundane and ordinary could also be art. Of course when the “artist” does it, he is paid lots of money, where as the object inspiring the art continues to be worth much less. This is why a Warhol soup can drawing is worth money, while a can of actual soup is worth $.99.

In general I liked the Pop Art movement a lot, other than Warhol. Arguably the most famous artist of the movement is my least favorite.

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An amazing Roy reference guide-


Russ Heath spent much of his career working for DC (Warner Brothers) and Marvel (Magazine Management, Cadence, Disney), but the blame for his lack of benefits, royalties, and health care suddenly falls on a long-dead painter? I think work-for-hire and corporate greed are the real comic book villains here.


Lichtenstein’s actual paintings are much, much larger than the original comic art. When I had only seen his stuff in photographs, I never much liked him, but seeing them in person I had a different response. The scale does make a difference - the dots that appear only as normal screens in a photograph are outsized and exaggerated in person. It gives an irony to the work that is hard to see in a small reproduction.

I had a similar reaction to a lot of Picasso’s work, particularly the Cubist stuff, which was painted to be seen while standing, with the painting on the wall, displayed where you can walk around and view it from different angles. You just can’t get the same experience with a photo.


I appreciate that, but why did have to copy existing comic art? Why couldn’t he have done the same thing but come up with his own images?

There are many more Lichtenstein swipes at my Deconstructing Roy Lichtenstein Flickr website

That’s a good question. I don’t know the answer, or enough about Lichtenstein to make a good defense, but I cdid google up a link to an article about this, for further discussion:

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As I was Googling around I found a few articles where you were cited. Maybe you can add in to the conversation about this? I am particularly curious why Disney has never sued him, as far as I know, for use of Mickey and Donald Duck.

In the article it is said that the author of the original comic book panel is Irv Novick. This brings to the discussion, together with what terebifunhouse points out above, the (possibility of) colective nature of the comic art, that is, maybe Russ Heath was the penciler (I’m not sure, was Novick the inker?), and there is also the colorist, all of them contribute more or less to the final art. But besides that, what the author of the BBC article is trying is to justify something because it is socially more valuable, I mean, comic books against fine art. I don’t agree with him. He sounds pedantic.

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When part of the point is appropriation, creating something from whole-cloth loses.

Why couldn’t Public Enemy create all of their own sounds? The sources are important.


Short answer: Because the work is not just a copy of the comic books, but about the comic books…