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Drowning Girl
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Arty Fact

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Drowning Girl by Roy Lichtenstein is what Pop Art is all about!

This quirky art movement focused on capturing images of the everyday, and few artists did it better than our boy, Lichtenstein. Drowning Girl is one of the most iconic images from this artistic period and is definitely Lichtenstein’s most famous work.

While Lichtenstein may be revered in the art world, it wasn't because he was a prosperous fountain of creativity. Most of his paintings are copied directly from comic books and this piece is no exception to that. Many people have rejected Lichtenstein’s work for this reason; in fact, Life magazine published an article in 1964 calling him the worst artist in America. While some people may be dismayed with his blatant hijacking of other artists work, it is my humble opinion that this is what makes Lichtenstein great. As Pablo Picasso said, “Good artists copy, great artists steal.”

This image of our blubbering heroine first appeared in the comic book Run for Love! published by DC Comics in 1962. In the original, we see both our drowning lady in the front while a hunksicle of a man hangs on to a wrecked boat in the background. The voice bubble in the original stated, “I don’t care if I have a cramp! I’d rather sink than call Mal for help!”. Lichtenstein shortened our martyr’s cry in his piece and changed the man’s name from Mal to Brad. Lichtenstein repeatedly used this quintessential beach bum bro name in his work, claiming that Brad sounded manly and heroic.

He may have tweaked and cropped the piece slightly to make it his own, but this painting is clearly still a spitting image of the original. In addition to commandeering this comic book image, he also altered the wave to look like Hokusai's woodblock print The Great Wave off Kanagawa.

With all of his art borrowing aside, Lichtenstein did create an aesthetic that was truly his own. In this piece, along with many others, Lichtenstein used Benday dots to create his images. Benday dots are a repeated dot pattern used by mechanical mass printers to create images on the cheap. Lichtenstein painstakingly enlarges and paints all of these dots by hand, and claims that he did so to comment on the worst side of commercial art.

This piece exhibits the clean crisp lines and bold colors that characterize the Pop Art movement. Along with a sexy young babe and a romantic air to the piece, what’s not to love? Well, maybe everything but that jerk Brad…

 

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Here is what Wikipedia says about Drowning Girl

Drowning Girl (also known as Secret Hearts or I Don't Care! I'd Rather Sink) is a 1963 painting in oil and synthetic polymer paint on canvas by Roy Lichtenstein. Using the conventions of comic book art, a thought bubble conveys the thoughts of the figure, while Ben-Day dots echo the effect of the mechanized printing process. It is one of the most representative paintings of the pop art movement, and part of the Museum of Modern Art's permanent collection since 1971. The painting is considered among Lichtenstein's most significant works, perhaps on a par with his acclaimed 1963 diptych Whaam!. Drowning Girl has been described as a "masterpiece of melodrama", and is one of the artist's earliest images depicting women in tragic situations, a theme to which he often returned in the mid-1960s.

The painting shows a teary-eyed woman on a turbulent sea. She is emotionally distressed, seemingly from a romance. A thought bubble reads: "I Don't Care! I'd Rather Sink — Than Call Brad For Help!" This narrative element highlights the clichéd melodrama, while its graphics reiterate Lichtenstein's theme of painterly work imitating mechanized reproduction. The work is derived from a 1962 DC Comics panel, while also borrowing from Hokusai's The Great Wave off Kanagawa and from elements of modernist artists Jean Arp and Joan Miró. It is one of several Lichtenstein works that mention a character named Brad who is absent from the picture. Both the graphical and narrative elements of the work are cropped from the source image.

Check out the full Wikipedia article about Drowning Girl.