Art & Design

The Heartbreak Connection

Hello Readers! Today, I’ll be discussing a piece that is truly iconic: Roy Lichtenstein’s Ohhh…Alright… (found in the Modern Wing at the Art Institute of Chicago).

The 1964 painting is a piece shows a close up image of a woman on the phone as the foreground. It is 36 inches x 38 inches; viewers are larger than it, but it’s large enough to notice the details. Outlines of different figures are highlighted with thick, black lines to create contrast with the colors used. I feel like the black outlines were necessary because the entire piece is so bright and certain elements would have been lost without it.

The first thing I notice were the primary colors. Using bold colors such as red, yellow, blue and black is the equivalent of a having a flashing sign, with huge letters, doused in glitter, that says, “Look at me now!” Yet, it doesn’t feel like a desperate call for attention. I believe he was intentional with his color choices, and it really ties within the piece. Besides the colors, Lichtenstein used a technique called Benday Dot Technique, which is the skill of painting the majority of piece by only using dots. Additionally, it’s a type of technique that is used to create texture that is represented in comic books. Using magna paint, he would use a variety of stencils and use both types of paints to create the dots. For his lines, he used masking tape to create smooth, crisp lines that are definitely conveyed in almost all of his works. 

By doing a lot of research, I found out that Ohhh…Alright… was a part of a series. Lichtenstein created a series of paintings that had romance as the focal point and represented cultural dichotomy between male and female stereotypes that were strongly developed in the 1950s/60s. Although I won’t be analyzing the series, I can only image how much emotion would be evoked if I were to see the pieces collectively. When I first saw the painting at AIC, I automatically had sympathy for this woman I didn’t know. Without any context for the image itself, her emotion that Lichtenstein was able to convey into the painting really spoke to me. The way she held the telephone to the line on her forehead, those subtleties were additions to the feelings the woman in the painting had and would ultimately make viewers want to sympathize or empathize. 

In an essay that can be founded on Christie’s website, it provides the context behind Ohhh… Alright… which states, “Lichtenstein’s series of romance paintings drew on the slightly dated comic books published for the burgeoning Post-War teenage market. The plot line of these stories typically follows a young girl who falls in love with a young man; a serious problem arises to threaten the relationship, and the heroine is briefly devastated before an inevitable happy conclusion…”

Then a realization hit me like a ton of bricks: heartbreak is a feeling most individuals have gone through and it’s something that keeps us connected. It keeps us sympathetic, empathetic, frustrated, desolate, and miserable all at once. It’s a feeling that never really goes away, even if you’ve found your person, because of how much it hurt you back when it happened.  This is why I’ll always say that Lichtenstein was a complete genius for creating art, nonetheless a series, that expressed just that. Ohhh…Alright… continues to represent the “romance culture” of today, and will be stunned with its current relevancy to society. Well, with the exception of women being defined by men. Glad that’s over! *drops mic 

-Michelle

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