The Crisis of Masculinity
To treat Lichtenstein paintings as high art, his defenders emphasized that his works transformed their sources, not simply copied and enlarged their comic-book sources in which the artist alered it. The stylistic differences, formal transformations, as evindences of an individual signiture. It meant, the L. assumed a critical stance against comics, against consumer culture. To distinghuish L’s paintings from their comic book sources, was to defend the artist creator from the feminine threat of consumer culture. This formalist defence, implied an issue of gender, because the creative potential of art was a masculine authority. Those who criticised L. thought, his art denied that art is a transformation of experience. The pratice of mere copying erased the relavance of the artist’s hand, the significance of individual touch, the principle of originality. The absence of gesture marked the loss of a masculine presence. His defenders and his critics take granted the importance of transformation over copying. The rejection of gesture by L., and by all the pop artists meant the rejection of the connection between the stroke of paint and the thansformative presence of masculinity. This discourse was initiated by Hans Namuth’s photographs of Pollock at work and H. Rosenberg’s notion of action painting. No Pop art painting mocked gesture, the dinamics of the hand as L’s brushstrokes series. The critical interpretation of Pollock’s paintings based in part on popular accounts of his turbulent life. L. assumed the role of the careful craftsman, a cerebral rather an intuitive being.
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