Lecture: Professor Ellen Lupton on Pop Art and Graphic Design

The Menil Collection
6 Apr 202253:05

Summary

TLDRThe presentation focuses on pop artist Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein and how their techniques of enlarging halftone dots and Benday dots made visible printing textures usually designed to disappear. It illuminates how Warhol's distinctive ink line was derived from a tracing paper transfer process. It explains Lichtenstein's painstaking method of applying uniform Benday dots with stencils versus gestural artists like Pollock. It shows both artists appropriating commercial art subjects like ads, comic books and celebrities considered 'feminine'. The talk explores how their interrogation of printing processes and commercial imagery was considered subversive yet hugely influential on graphic design.

Takeaways

  • 😀 Andy Warhol invented his own distinctive ink drawing style using a blotted line technique
  • 👩‍🎨 Warhol's mother Julia Warhola did lettering for many of his commercial illustrations
  • 🔎 Roy Lichtenstein blew up and exposed the benday dot, making visible this previously overlooked printing technique
  • 🖌 Lichtenstein used perforated metal stencils and a toothbrush to mechanically apply uniform dots to his canvases
  • 👄 Both Warhol and Lichtenstein featured dramatically enlarged lips in their pop art
  • 🌇 Adele Weber used rubber stamp lips to create prints and painted over them, playing with ideas of traces and prints
  • 🇺🇸 Jasper Johns flag paintings were things seen but not examined - the graphics of flags rendered in paint
  • ✊🏿 Faith Ringgold’s political posters of bleeding and violent American flags confronted laws against desecrating the flag
  • 🎨 Ringgold developed a color theory she termed 'black light' using deep, vibrant hues to celebrate black skin
  • 👩‍💻 'Old ladies' working for minimum wage manually produced the benday dots that colored the comic books Lichtenstein appropriated

Q & A

  • What technique did Andy Warhol invent to create his distinctive ink drawing style?

    -Warhol created a process where he would make a drawing on tracing paper and then ink the back of the tracing paper with wet India ink. The tracing paper was then pressed onto a piece of illustration board to create a print, leaving gaps and blobs that became part of his signature style.

  • How were Ben Day dots used in commercial printing?

    -Ben Day dots were used in commercial printing to reproduce illustrations, comic books, maps, and fashion illustrations. They were applied by hand using a complex mechanical contraption to create tone and texture.

  • How did Roy Lichtenstein differ from pop artists in his use of Ben Day dots?

    -Unlike other pop artists who used enlarged halftone dots from photographs, Lichtenstein used uniform benday dots. He had to invent his own method of transferring them to canvas using perforated metal stencils and pressing paint through with a toothbrush.

  • What was unique about Adele Weber's use of lips in her pop art?

    -In a drawing covered in stamped lips, Weber painted a businessman silhouette over the top, symbolically showing lips as a sexualized feminine 'mark' or conquest being covered up and controlled by male authority.

  • How did symbols like flags feature in pop art and graphic design?

    -Pop artists like Jasper Johns used common symbols like flags to explore things seen but not examined. Graphic designers in the 1960s then adopted flag motifs to make stark, printed political posters.

  • How did Andy Warhol's mother Julia collaborate in his commercial illustration work?

    -Julia Warhola worked side-by-side with Andy, sometimes doing ink drawings and lettering for commissions. She received credit under the name 'Andy Warhol's Mother'.

  • How was photo reproduction used in creating pop art works?

    -Many pop artists appropriated images from mass media like newspapers and advertisements and blew them up as a basis for paintings, often preserving and accentuating the halftone dots.

  • How did Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein represent different approaches to creating pop art?

    -Warhol embraced imperfect mechanical reproduction while Lichtenstein invented meticulous manual techniques to create the illusion of perfect mechanical dots and crisp commercial style.

  • How did graphic designers respond to pop art innovations?

    -Graphic designers immediately adopted pop art motifs like blown-up dots into campaigns for products like the 5up soda brand identity.

  • How did Faith Ringgold's 'Black Light' posters relate to pop art?

    -Ringgold's psychedelic color theory for celebrating black skin related to trippy San Francisco rock posters, building on modernist color theory Ringgold learned as an art student.

Outlines

00:00

😃 Warhol's signature line drawing technique

Paragraph 1 discusses Andy Warhol's unique line drawing technique he invented as a college student to create a distinctive style. He would make a drawing on tracing paper, ink the back with wet India ink pressed to illustration board to print it. This made prints with missing gaps and blobs that reproduced well. His assistants helped produce the drawings using this technique.

05:00

📚 Warhol's early commercial illustration work

Paragraph 2 shows examples of how Warhol applied his signature line drawing technique to commercial works like book covers. He likely also did the lettering on some. The prints have more depth than the final drawings. Other designers integrated his illustrations into designs, like the book cover lettered by his mother Julia Warhola.

10:00

👵🏻 Julia Warhola's lettering and collaboration

Paragraph 3 discusses Julia Warhola's lettering work on promotional books Andy Warhol made as gifts for clients. She lettered and illustrated some books like a cookbook with Andy's gourmet food illustrations. She was credited as "Andy Warhol's mother" when his work won awards.

15:02

🔎 Making halftone dots and patterns visible in art

Paragraph 4 explores pop artists like Warhol and Lichtenstein using halftone dots and benday patterns, designed to disappear in printing, but made visible. Warhol blew up photographic halftones and Lichtenstein invented ways to apply benday dots. Other earlier graphic design works had experimented with visible dots.

20:05

🤓 Understanding benday dots and production

Paragraph 5 dives deep into what benday dots and patterns are, how they were produced for illustrations using an intense hands-on process over a century. It evolved from a complex lithographic technique to a cheaper acetate method done by women minimum wage "dot makers" working for comic color separators.

25:07

🎨 Lichtenstein's benday dot technique and reception

Paragraph 6 examines how Lichtenstein developed ways to perfectly reproduce benday dots on canvas using stencils and a toothbrush. This mechanical process is compared to the more respected Jackson Pollock's expressive dripping paint technique as polarity between commercial vs fine art.

30:10

👄 Lipstick prints and kissing imagery in pop art

Paragraph 7 analyzes use of lipstick prints and lips as sexual marks and evidence of conquest in pulp fiction and pop art. It traces possible origins of Warhol's repeating lip images to earlier graphic design works like a Herbert Bayer magazine cover.

35:14

🇺🇸 Flags - things seen but not examined in pop art

Paragraph 8 discusses Jasper Johns' early pop flags series as recreations of the graphics of a flag, rather than pictures of flags. Later pop artists built on this with prints and posters of flags infused with political messages, exploring commercial reproduction.

40:16

🎨 Faith Ringgold's poster works on state violence

Paragraph 9 highlights Faith Ringgold's powerful political posters like The People's Flag Show which led to arrests for using flags. Cooper Hewitt is acquiring these works which build on a history of activist graphic design poster work to spotlight injustice.

45:18

🤔 Discussing Lichtenstein's inspiration and methods

Paragraph 10 examines questions on whether Lichtenstein was more inspired by commercial subject matter or stylistic graphic qualities to use dots. The discussion explores his choice of already degraded and feminized source material and how he transformed it through an ironic lens.

50:18

💭 Conversations on reviving pop art and its legacy

Paragraph 11 considers whether now is a good time to revitalize pop art given our highly commercialized visual culture. It notes contemporary painters especially create related commentary on media, products and capital, though different than classic pop art.

Mindmap

Keywords

💡commercial art

Commercial art refers to art that is produced for commercial purposes, such as advertising, illustration, and graphic design. In the video, commercial art is discussed in the context of Andy Warhol's early career as a successful commercial illustrator. Ellen Lupton notes the irony that while commercial art was created for reproduction, it still relied heavily on hand processes and techniques at that time.

💡dots

Dots are a key visual element that Ellen Lupton analyzes throughout the talk. She discusses two main types of dots used in pop art - halftone dots that Warhol enlarged from printed photographs to reveal the underlying printing process, and benday dots that Lichtenstein based on the patterns used in commercial printing and comics. The visibility of dots in pop art highlights processes and textures that are normally invisible.

💡lines

Lines refer to the distinctive ink lines that Andy Warhol devised early in his career to give his commercial illustrations a unique handmade and imperfect quality, while still making them easy to reproduce. The gaps and inconsistencies of Warhol's lines became part of his signature visual style.

💡lips

Lips are discussed both as a common pop art motif, such as in Warhol's paintings of Marilyn Monroe and other stars, as well as a symbol of femininity, sensuality, and sexual conquest in commercial illustrations and pulp media. The video analyzes how lips take on these layers of meaning in different artworks.

💡flags

Flags are addressed late in the talk, in relation to Jasper Johns' encaustic paintings of the American flag and Sturtevant's replica of Johns' flag. Ellen Lupton analyzes how artists like Faith Ringgold also adopted the flag in political posters to directly recreate and engage with this national symbol and its meanings.

💡mass media

Mass media, including commercial advertisements, consumer magazines, popular films, and romance comics, served as source material and inspiration for many pop artists. By borrowing mass media imagery, pop art questioned and revealed media stereotypes and consumerist values.

💡photomechanical reproduction

Photomechanical reproduction refers to printing processes utilizing photography to mass produce graphic images and text. As discussed regarding halftone dots, pop artists like Warhol enlarged and called attention to textures caused by commercial photomechanical reproduction that normally go unnoticed.

💡graphic design

As a graphic designer herself, Ellen Lupton provides insights into how principles of graphic design shaped styles and techniques seen in pop art. This includes Warhol's integration of image and text, Lichtenstein's sharpening of comic book panels into clear graphic compositions, and use of simplified graphic forms as in Jasper Johns' flags.

💡appropriation

Appropriation is a key strategy behind pop art, as artists borrowed and repurposed commercial imagery, advertising slogans, comics, product packaging, and other examples of mass media and consumer culture. By recontextualizing such appropriated elements, pop artists commented on their ubiquitous presence in society.

💡serial imagery

Serial imagery refers to the repetition of a single visual motif or source image across a body of work or multiple works, as exemplified by Warhol's serial paintings of Campbell's Soup Cans, Marilyn Monroe, and other subjects. This mechanically-inspired approach contrasts with the gestural expressionism prevalent in abstract art at the time.

Highlights

Kelly Montana introduces Ellen Lupton, emphasizing her role in shaping the perception of everyday objects through design.

Ellen Lupton's exploration of Andy Warhol's unique line creation process, which involved a combination of hand processes and mechanical reproduction.

Discussion on Warhol's transition from commercial illustrator to pop artist, highlighting the blend of handcrafted and mechanical elements in his work.

Lupton's insight into the collaborative nature of Warhol's early work, including contributions from his mother, Julia Warhola.

The exploration of halftone dots in Warhol's art, revealing the technique of making visible the typically unseen texture of reproduced images.

Analysis of Roy Lichtenstein's adoption of the Benday dot technique to emulate and critique commercial art aesthetics.

The technical challenge and process behind Lichtenstein's precision in recreating dot patterns to mimic mechanical reproduction.

Comparison between Jackson Pollock and Roy Lichtenstein's Life magazine features, highlighting the differing public perceptions of their art processes.

The impact of pop art on commercial graphic design, with examples such as the 7UP identity redesign that incorporated enlarged dot patterns.

The role of lips as a recurring motif in pop art, symbolizing various themes from femininity to consumer culture.

Jasper Johns' approach to painting flags as objects of everyday life, challenging viewers to see familiar symbols in new ways.

Sturtevant's meticulous recreation of Jasper Johns' flag paintings, questioning the nature of originality and reproduction in art.

The use of the American flag in art as a medium for political expression and critique, as seen in works by Faith Ringgold and others.

Lupton's discussion on the continuous relevance and evolution of pop art themes in contemporary art, particularly in the context of digital media and societal critique.

The lecture's emphasis on the intertwined relationship between art, design, and commercial culture, illustrating how artists like Warhol and Lichtenstein blurred these boundaries.

Transcripts

play00:07

hi good evening everyone

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i'm kelly montana i'm the assistant

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curator here at the manila drawing

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institute and i'm really thrilled to see

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so many of you here with us tonight

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before i begin i'd like to remind

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everyone to silence or even consider

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airplane mode your cell phones please we

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are recording this talk and it will be

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posted online in the coming weeks

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i'm delighted to be hosting this event a

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lecture by ellen lupton in conjunction

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with our exhibition draw like a machine

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pop art 1952-1975

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the show is overwhelmingly drawn from

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the museum's permanent collection with

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key loans from collectors based here in

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houston some of whom are with us this

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evening

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the exhibition galleries will remain

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open for a brief period after the talk

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ends for anyone that would like to visit

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and we are especially grateful that

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ellen could travel from maryland to be

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here with us tonight there will be time

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for a short q a following her

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presentation and please hold your

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questions until then

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and now it is my pleasure to introduce

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ellen lupton

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ellen is a writer curator educator and

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designer

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she is the betty cook and william

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steinmetz design chair at the maryland

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institute college of art in baltimore

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and the senior curator of contemporary

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design at the cooper hewitt

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the smithsonian design museum in new

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york

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her newest exhibition at the cooper

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hewitt is design and healing creative

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responses to epidemics

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a prolific writer her recent

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publications include the co-authored

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extra bold a feminist inclusive

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anti-racist non-binary field guide for

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graphic designers

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and her texts mother tongue the script

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of julia warhola and how posters work

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were especially critical for me in the

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exhibition on view this evening i

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returned to them time and again

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for me the through line in ellen's work

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is how she closely attends to the

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journey we are all on with the often

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overlooked yet often necessary things of

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our lives

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she unpacks with incredible specificity

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why an object or an image makes you feel

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joy frustration or total indifference

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and her work always assures that you

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know it is a person that designed it

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they made it with intention and they are

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quite literally shaping your world

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in short ellen's mind is an exciting one

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that i am sure will make you see much of

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it anew and i will turn it over to her

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please join me in welcoming our guest

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ellen lupton

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thank you kelly it was so much fun to

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see this show

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it's a real delight to be here so thank

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you

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so my my lecture title looks a little

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bit like a basic design lesson you know

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we start with lines

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and then we do dots

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but then all of a sudden we're like sex

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and politics right that's how it works

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so

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um

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i'm a graphic designer i'm not an art

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historian but i love art and i loved

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looking at all the

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beautiful works on paper with kelly

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today

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and

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everything i do in the field of design

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somehow comes back to how things are

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made i'm just really interested in that

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it often interests me more than what it

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means

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sorry

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right basic design

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so we're going to start talking about

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these lines and this is from

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andy warhol's early career

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he was a very successful commercial

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illustrator

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for the first decade of his career in

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new york city and he studied commercial

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art at the carnegie institute in

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pittsburgh now carnegie mellon

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university

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[Music]

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and when he was in school

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he

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set upon himself the challenge

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to invent his own line

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because if you're going to be a

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commercial illustrator

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you had to have your own line

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and i think this gets to some of the

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the ironies and

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fascinating contradictions in kelly's

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show

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of how

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commercial art

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although it was created for reproduction

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had at its basis

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these hand processes

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that even when

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the graphic artists were striving for

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something more mechanical

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there's still these hand processes

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at the bottom

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and so how did andy warhol

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make his very special line

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well he

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created this process where he would

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make a drawing on tracing paper

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and then on the back of the tracing

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paper he would

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ink it with wet india ink

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and it was hinged to a nice piece of

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illustration board

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and then he would press the two things

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together

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in order to create this print

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and so what you see on the left in each

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case

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is the print the final drawing and what

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you see on the right is the

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ink original

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which oddly enough it has like more

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detail and more depth and

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and it's fascinating to me that often in

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the print

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some of the character actually

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disappears

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um and what he was trying to create was

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this very distinctive line that has

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little gaps and blobs in it

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and another advantage of this method is

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that it was very easy to

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photomechanically reproduce so in all

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the reproduction methods of the era

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including today

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a pure black line on a white

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ground is easiest to print and so to

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make his unique line it also had to be

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very print friendly

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so the line is kind of printed

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and it's kind of drawn

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and it's kind of there

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and it's kind of not there

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parts are missing

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but they're missing by accident

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and it's a kind of wonderfully warholian

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design um

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and often his assistants would actually

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do the inking

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and sometimes the entire drawing for him

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and this is in the 50s when he was a

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commercial illustrator later of course

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we know he had a factory but really the

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factory started in his townhouse

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in manhattan where he lived with his

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mother

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and where his assistants often helped

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him with the drawings

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and learned how to do the process that

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he invented when he was a college kid

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um

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and so i found some examples and there

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are many where he applied this drawing

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style to commercial pieces he did a lot

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of book covers which are really

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wonderful

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and here's one where he likely also did

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the lettering

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and there's a wonderful integration of

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the lettering and the illustration and

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the

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kind of textured uh background

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he did many book covers and you can

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buy these for not too much money

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it's a kind of fun collector's beginning

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collectors pieces if you're into that

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um

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this one

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most likely another designer added the

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type

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i don't see any evidence in warhol's

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work that he knew how to do typography

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per se

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but it's quite beautifully integrated

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into this wonderful drawing and you can

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see his

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line right his distinctive signature

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line he had a couple of other lines as

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well but this is the one that he's most

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known for and there's wonderful examples

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of it in the exhibition which is really

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fun to see

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he certainly didn't design the book

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cover he did the illustration

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and another designer would have

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reversed it you know created this

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dramatic

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layout with it

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and in this case using this typewriter

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type

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to

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create

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that feeling of rawness

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and roughness

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that goes with the line and there's

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always a challenge for graphic designers

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working with illustration

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is how do you make illustrations look

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okay with type

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because type is hard and fixed

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and has sharp edges and often looks

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really bad with illustrations so

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kudos to this uncredited designer who

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actually did the cover design featuring

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the illustration

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um

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and sometimes we can look inside the

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books and see who designed it with andy

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warhol

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so here's a book cover

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um

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with with this

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image of a piano on the cover

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but the

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designer has really taken that

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illustration and turned it into this

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uh you know photo montage essentially

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and inside the book

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is andy warhol's drawing kind of left

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as it is um

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[Music]

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so really cool

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um and and this cover is lettered by

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andy warhol's mother

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julia warhola

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who did much lettering during this

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period

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there in the townhouse where the studio

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was where she and andy lived and where

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everybody worked

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creating these things

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um and that's andy and julia

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together a really

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whoops

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beautiful and moving picture

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and he kind of credited her in a way

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he would sometimes credit her as andy

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warhol's mother

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including getting a prize from the art

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directors club of new york

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which went to andy warhol's mother

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so

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if you're a mother as i am

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it's kind of getting credit

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it's kind of being erased yet again

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right

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um and andy warhol crea during this

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commercial period

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created these wonderful promotional

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books

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that were sent out to clients and

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friends as christmas gifts and this was

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a very common practice for commercial

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artists at the time and even today some

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of us still do that i'm usually at some

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ugly jiff

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and always sent on new year's day not

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christmas

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and this one is entirely illustrated and

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lettered

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by julia warhola

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and this beautiful

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cookbook which was commercially produced

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and was co-authored with susie frankfurt

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features andy warhol's illustrations of

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outrageous gourmet food as it was called

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at the time and they're really making

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fun of these extravagant recipes

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and all of the lettering is by julia

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warhola

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and you could even get it as press type

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so if there any survivors of the

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pre-digital graphic design industry in

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the room

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press type was a way to create

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typesetting when you didn't have the

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money or time to send it out and get

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galleys made and cut them up and paste

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them on a board

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and so this press type actually features

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julia warhola's lettering

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it is quite cool

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and i wish we could still get it but

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this is not not easily found

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okay let's talk about dots

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um

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[Music]

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so dots are a big feature of pop art

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and of course they're a big

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feature of commercial graphic design

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and andy warhol started

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using enlarged dots

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in these silk screen paintings the

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series called most wanted men from 1964.

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and the paintings

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were originally an installation on a

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building

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in the new york world's fair of 1964.

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and they were very big and you would see

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them from a great distance and you

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wouldn't see the dots

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and they were painted over almost

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immediately they were considered

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scandalous

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a man wanting men and they're criminals

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it could not be

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but then andy warhol

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made these paintings to show in a

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gallery using the exact same screens

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and he saw that the dots were big

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and looked cool

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and it became a big part of his style

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and these are halftone dots so taking a

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newspaper photograph or any kind of

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reproduced photograph and blowing it up

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so he made visible this texture

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that we that is designed to go away

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right that you're not supposed to see

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and now you can see it even more it's so

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beautiful

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and it's a technical process it was

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invented in the 1880s and it is all

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around us

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and we don't see it but andy warhol

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helps us see it by making it big

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and he was not the first person to do

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that of course there were other artists

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who had done it

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and others who had done it in a

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commercial

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context and i thank blake gopnik for his

play14:45

wonderful article what the dots mean in

play14:47

andy warhol's pop art

play14:50

for this beautiful

play14:51

book cover

play14:53

for arthur rambo's illuminations

play14:57

designed by

play14:58

andy warhol's friend ray johnson um

play15:02

for new directions press which was one

play15:04

of andy warhol's clients and so he

play15:07

likely saw it

play15:09

maybe maybe not but

play15:12

i love these two beautiful men together

play15:16

in dots

play15:17

gorgeous

play15:20

this is a

play15:21

much older poster this is from 1934

play15:24

and it's a poster by zanti shivinsky

play15:28

who was a

play15:30

student at the bauhaus

play15:32

and left germany in the early 30s

play15:36

to go to italy where he became a very

play15:38

successful

play15:40

graphic designer and did fantastic

play15:43

commercial work for olivetti and many

play15:45

other

play15:47

companies but he also did this poster

play15:48

for mussolini

play15:51

with dots

play15:53

and it's quite a striking

play15:56

use of the halftone

play16:00

to

play16:01

illustrate really the theory of fascism

play16:05

so we have the head of the charismatic

play16:08

leader

play16:10

sitting on a body

play16:12

made up of the masses of the people

play16:15

right so his power

play16:18

comes

play16:19

from the devotion of the math

play16:23

and

play16:24

a photographic halftone its unity

play16:28

comes from the invisible dots right

play16:31

whose individuality

play16:33

is erased

play16:35

in the name of the larger image

play16:38

and shivinsky in this amazing poster

play16:42

sort of brings the dot into visibility

play16:47

many years before andy warhol or ray

play16:50

johnson but there were others who did it

play16:52

too and now there's roy lichtenstein

play16:56

who made a different kind of dot not a

play16:59

half tone dot

play17:01

but dots that are all the same size

play17:05

and this is called a bend a dot

play17:10

and

play17:12

wow

play17:13

more big dots and bend a dots are used

play17:17

not in photography

play17:20

but for reproducing illustrations and

play17:22

particularly comic books

play17:25

and maps and fashion illustrations

play17:29

and the bend a dot is designed to

play17:31

disappear

play17:33

and it was also invented in the 1880s

play17:36

and is all around us and yet we do not

play17:38

see it

play17:40

but now we see it

play17:42

because roy lichtenstein made it big

play17:47

um and so these are two very different

play17:49

dots with a very different

play17:52

texture and a different uh impression

play17:55

upon us

play17:57

and i you know roy lichtenstein he

play17:58

really made this his signature

play18:01

and he made something visible that we

play18:03

had never noticed before

play18:06

and in fact he made the word benday dot

play18:09

like part of conversation right like

play18:12

don't you walk around and talk to people

play18:14

about ben day dots well

play18:16

it's because of roy lichtenstein not

play18:18

because

play18:19

you know jack about graphic arts

play18:22

production right

play18:24

so

play18:25

what is it anyway

play18:28

um

play18:30

if you do some internet searching as we

play18:33

are prone to do you will find

play18:35

definitions like this from the moma

play18:38

website

play18:39

incorrectly hyphenated because ben day

play18:42

was a person

play18:43

not a hyphenation

play18:46

and we see some examples under there

play18:48

some of them are by roy lichtenstein and

play18:50

they have bende dots

play18:52

but the others are halftone dots

play18:56

okay so we got to get serious about this

play18:58

because they're very different dots

play19:01

and if you go on grove art online you

play19:05

learn

play19:06

again about the guy who used bend a dots

play19:10

in the 60s right

play19:12

and not the whole history of like how

play19:14

this actually has changed

play19:16

commercial printing

play19:18

it's his brand right the ben day dot

play19:21

became

play19:23

equated with roy lichtenstein

play19:29

over and over it's fascinating

play19:35

he owns it

play19:39

but what went on before so i wanted to

play19:42

learn more about what really is a

play19:44

band-aid dot

play19:45

and i knew i couldn't rely on art

play19:48

historians for this because they don't

play19:50

really care about graphic arts

play19:51

production they care about roy

play19:53

lichtenstein

play19:55

so i had to go to the source

play19:57

which is a guy named legion of andy

play20:01

who has an obsessive excellent

play20:04

beautifully footnoted and researched

play20:07

website that goes on for page after page

play20:09

after page

play20:11

about bend a dots and i will not get too

play20:14

deep in the weeds

play20:16

but just to show you like bend a dots

play20:18

have a lot of variety they were created

play20:21

with this physical screen this physical

play20:24

invention

play20:25

that actually required an enormous

play20:27

amount of hand skill

play20:29

to apply to drawings

play20:33

um this

play20:34

device a contraption

play20:37

that would be attached to this

play20:38

lithographic stone at a slight distance

play20:42

from the uh surface and then a stylus

play20:45

would press

play20:46

the greasy inked

play20:48

dotted piece of celluloid to the stone

play20:52

and leave an impression

play20:55

and it was you know quite an involved

play20:58

technique

play21:00

that was used for over a hundred years

play21:02

really in exactly the way that mr

play21:05

benjamin day junior intended it

play21:09

um you would mask out the part of the

play21:11

drawing that didn't get dots

play21:14

and they weren't just dots they were

play21:15

lines um

play21:17

uh and here's a beautiful so all kinds

play21:20

of you know different textures

play21:22

some of them emulating the more handmade

play21:25

stipples of copper plate engraving

play21:28

and some of them very regular

play21:31

and in the mid 20th century those

play21:33

regular dots became more popular because

play21:36

of the presence of halftone printing

play21:38

being so ubiquitous

play21:40

that you really wanted your

play21:42

ben day dots to look more photographic

play21:45

and less like old-time print making

play21:49

and this is what the ben day department

play21:52

looked like in a engraving studio in

play21:55

chicago in

play21:56

1921 so lots of guys hunched over

play22:00

equipment

play22:01

working hard

play22:03

at creating this invisible texture

play22:10

you could put it on anything

play22:15

and then by by 1960 the process was

play22:18

quite a bit different it was done with

play22:20

layers of acetate and was a different

play22:24

technical process that anybody who's

play22:26

really excited can ask me exactly how

play22:29

that worked because now i know because i

play22:31

am into legion of andy

play22:34

the new process was cheaper

play22:37

and it was mostly done by women whoops

play22:41

keep going too fast um

play22:43

and one of the this is for comic book

play22:46

production uh these studios they were

play22:49

called color separators and one of the

play22:51

companies

play22:52

referred to as employees as

play22:55

old ladies who worked for minimum wage

play23:00

and these were the women who are

play23:02

responsible for translating all of the

play23:04

colors in a comic book

play23:07

into ben day dots

play23:15

so roy lichtenstein didn't know anything

play23:17

about that

play23:18

or how to make color separations or how

play23:21

a comic book was actually produced

play23:23

he had to invent his own

play23:27

quasi-mechanical way

play23:29

to get these dots onto a drawing or onto

play23:32

a canvas

play23:34

i never thought about it before

play23:36

so thank you kelly montana

play23:38

because now i will never get it out of

play23:40

my head how did roy lichtenstein get

play23:42

those dots on the canvas like andy

play23:44

warhol we know

play23:46

he just blew up the photograph

play23:49

and made those dots bigger but roy had

play23:52

to think of a way to get perfect uniform

play23:56

dots

play23:57

onto a canvas

play23:59

now the people at life magazine were

play24:01

very interested in this question too and

play24:04

they published this article

play24:06

in 1964 is he the worst artist in the

play24:09

u.s question mark

play24:13

wow imagine that being your article in

play24:16

life magazine

play24:18

and they wanted to know

play24:20

roy

play24:21

how do you make the dots

play24:24

and how do you get these big comic books

play24:26

to be on the canvas

play24:29

and so he took them step by step through

play24:31

the process

play24:33

and actually showed how to create this

play24:36

this very famous painting that

play24:38

where is my image duplicator

play24:41

um

play24:43

and so we would start with a little

play24:45

comic book

play24:47

and he would make his own sketch

play24:49

and all the art historians are very into

play24:52

pointing out that he changed the sketch

play24:54

and made it better

play24:56

it was transformation and it's true he

play24:59

designed it he made it like more crisp

play25:02

neat beautiful design

play25:07

and he blew it up with a projector which

play25:09

was a common way to make things big

play25:14

um

play25:15

projector

play25:17

source material

play25:20

and then

play25:21

he masked out

play25:23

the part of the painting that wasn't

play25:26

going to get dots and he used a piece of

play25:29

perforated metal as a stencil

play25:32

and forced paint

play25:34

with a toothbrush

play25:37

through the stencil onto the canvas

play25:42

some 15 years earlier jackson pollock

play25:45

also had his own article in life

play25:49

magazine

play25:51

and

play25:54

his process was a little more heroic

play25:57

right a guy with a cigarette

play26:01

dripping house paint

play26:03

on the floor

play26:05

squatting

play26:07

versus

play26:08

roy with a toothbrush

play26:11

and a stencil on a table what a drag

play26:17

anyway i had to go look at what

play26:19

what pollux magazine article looked like

play26:22

as well really beautiful graphic design

play26:26

amazing love it with the

play26:28

freeze you know and there he is looking

play26:31

so manly against

play26:33

uh his canvas

play26:35

but then where are the photographs of

play26:37

jackson pollock

play26:39

doing his masculine on the floor

play26:45

that's what that looks like

play26:48

okay

play26:49

at least roy got his own spread right

play26:51

without any ads

play26:54

and so the pop artist kind of took

play26:56

that part the feminized part the mass

play27:00

media part

play27:02

and said you know what let's do that

play27:04

instead

play27:07

and so

play27:08

amazing quote

play27:10

by roy lichtenstein it was almost

play27:13

acceptable to hang a dripping paint rag

play27:17

like jackson pollock

play27:19

everyone was accustomed to this

play27:22

the one thing everyone hated was

play27:24

commercial art

play27:28

um

play27:30

right so he took the ads which nobody

play27:32

liked

play27:34

comic books everybody actually likes

play27:36

comic books

play27:38

but not the comic books that roy picked

play27:41

the romance comic books those were for

play27:43

girls

play27:45

ah

play27:46

um and he really tried to recreate that

play27:49

texture

play27:50

um an amazing piece by molly nesbitt

play27:53

sort of taking apart the different

play27:55

quality of dots right

play27:58

how did roy learn to do beautiful dots

play28:01

so these are kind of rough

play28:05

these dots are in the exhibition and

play28:08

it's fabulous to look at them up close i

play28:10

love this drawing

play28:12

and these he made by rubbing so he found

play28:15

a screen that had a nice kind of dot

play28:18

texture to it

play28:19

and rubbed it to get that dot feeling

play28:24

and we can see that in some of his

play28:26

drawings

play28:27

but it's not perfect doesn't really look

play28:29

printed and he really wanted to like

play28:31

capture that feeling of print

play28:34

and got a much better effect with these

play28:36

stencils these perforated

play28:39

stencils that he could push paint or

play28:42

graphite through the holes and get more

play28:44

mechanical dots

play28:47

which now we know is an extremely

play28:50

labor-intensive hand process

play28:53

whether you were doing it as roy

play28:55

lichtenstein or as an old lady in new

play28:58

jersey working for a color separator it

play29:01

was a laborious hand process

play29:06

so it gets slicker and more perfect

play29:12

and then he would make collages where he

play29:14

would have his own uh papers made with

play29:17

these nice and large dots

play29:21

to kind of work more

play29:24

quickly and graphic designers use these

play29:28

sort of materials too

play29:30

rub downs and stick-ons that would allow

play29:33

you to put dots directly on your

play29:36

illustrations

play29:38

without having to work with the old

play29:39

ladies in new jersey

play29:43

the graphic design world responded

play29:45

immediately they just loved it they saw

play29:48

themselves reflected

play29:50

but in a cool way

play29:52

and almost immediately we see commercial

play29:54

graphic design with big dots

play30:02

this is from 7up 1975.

play30:10

and that identity was actually created

play30:12

by thomas miller a designer at morton

play30:15

goldschall associates in chicago who

play30:18

created this amazing identity for 7up

play30:21

that really has his own take on dots so

play30:24

his dots aren't just bend a dots

play30:27

blown up they're

play30:29

electric lights

play30:31

and they're soda bubbles

play30:34

they're the uncola

play30:36

they're so cool

play30:38

and so another take on the dot

play30:44

and then of course many artists were

play30:45

using the enlarged halftone dot which

play30:48

was you know just often for expedience

play30:50

because if you had a little tiny picture

play30:52

that you got from a magazine you want to

play30:54

make it big the dots are going to get

play30:57

big

play30:58

and you can make that beautiful and part

play31:01

of the aesthetic of your work and i

play31:03

think the pop artist really opened up

play31:06

that idea that that availability of

play31:08

making the dot visible

play31:12

and having that be acceptable having

play31:13

that be part of the texture of the thing

play31:16

and then there were political designers

play31:19

activists

play31:20

who were simply doing it out of pure

play31:22

expediency you know where the newspaper

play31:25

image

play31:26

is what you have and it has that texture

play31:30

of media

play31:31

emery douglas was the minister of

play31:33

culture for the black panther party in

play31:36

the 1960s

play31:38

and he used these beautiful

play31:40

ben day dots

play31:44

and all the cup front covers and back

play31:46

covers of the black panther magazine

play31:50

uh and use them to beautiful effect and

play31:52

and definitely amplifying that texture

play31:55

of the dot

play31:56

and letting it be seen letting the

play31:58

invisible be seen

play32:08

and this spectacular piece of original

play32:11

artwork

play32:12

from the collection of meryl c berman

play32:15

lets us see emery douglas working

play32:18

and see how he put together this

play32:20

mechanical artwork for the black panther

play32:23

magazine

play32:25

and he would have used one of these

play32:28

stick on or rubbed down dot

play32:31

patterns to fill in his illustration

play32:35

which is cut out and pasted on acetate

play32:38

over the mechanical board of the

play32:40

magazine

play32:44

using a product such as that

play32:47

now we have all these as digital

play32:48

products

play32:50

which are fun okay lips

play32:52

i love the lips

play32:54

in this exhibition

play32:57

um and this work by adele weber was

play33:00

really illuminating to me i had not seen

play33:02

her work before and this little drawing

play33:05

in the show is really about the size of

play33:07

a comic book cover

play33:09

and it is covered with lips

play33:11

which are rubber stamped onto the

play33:14

surface

play33:16

um and then this silhouette of a salary

play33:19

man is painted on top of it or under it

play33:24

obliterating the lips

play33:26

and so this idea of the lips as a kind

play33:28

of trace and a print

play33:31

um

play33:32

a print of uh female conquest of the

play33:36

sexual mark that a woman puts on another

play33:40

person

play33:41

um is a big trope in comic book art and

play33:45

movies and

play33:47

you know pulp fiction

play33:49

um

play33:50

and her work is

play33:52

creates these kind of iconic images of

play33:55

new york work life

play34:00

and here's some comic books playing with

play34:03

this trope where you know the lipstick

play34:05

print

play34:06

as a kind of

play34:08

body print

play34:09

mechanical print created by this ink

play34:12

right this sexualized ink on the face

play34:16

is evidence of infidelity it's evidence

play34:19

of

play34:20

sexual conquest it's the signature

play34:24

right the unique mark

play34:26

of the um of the woman

play34:34

and not always a woman

play34:36

there are beautiful um drawings of of

play34:39

andy warhol's friend gene swenson in the

play34:41

exhibition

play34:43

which make incredible detailed sensual

play34:46

focus

play34:47

on the lips of the model

play34:53

in some cases really taking over the

play34:55

whole drawing becoming what the drawing

play34:58

is all about

play35:05

and andy warhol also did portraits of

play35:07

his friend otto fenn wearing lipstick

play35:14

and then there are his amazing images of

play35:16

marilyn monroe and her lips

play35:19

and my friend michael dooley who's a

play35:20

graphic designer did this research

play35:23

showing the origins of some of andy

play35:25

warhol's lip fascination

play35:29

in this magazine cover by herbert beyer

play35:31

who was a graphic designer from the

play35:33

bauhaus

play35:34

one of my fav guys

play35:36

who came to new york and was an art

play35:39

director and designer in new york

play35:41

and andy warhol

play35:43

maybe saw this maybe traced it

play35:45

maybe used it as the basis of this

play35:49

um

play35:50

this icon that he he drew this over and

play35:52

over through his career even up until

play35:54

the 80s this this woman's face uh

play35:57

repeated

play35:59

um that may have come from herbert buyer

play36:03

and this beautiful printed book from

play36:05

1964 of just the lips

play36:09

right and the kind of frightening

play36:10

intensity of the lips

play36:13

okay flags is my last chapter

play36:18

this is jasper john's first painting of

play36:21

a flag

play36:23

in a period when he was discovering this

play36:26

idea

play36:28

of creating paintings of quote things

play36:30

seen and not looked at

play36:33

not examined right so we've just been

play36:35

looking at dots

play36:37

designed not to be seen not to be

play36:40

examined but blown up and exposed and

play36:44

for john's things like a flag or a

play36:47

letter or a number or a target where

play36:50

these things that have no scale

play36:52

you don't have to make a picture of

play36:54

right it is what it is

play36:57

um and so he made these paintings

play37:00

um

play37:01

it's not a picture of a flag it is a

play37:04

flag right it is the graphics of a flag

play37:07

rendered

play37:08

in his own

play37:09

materials

play37:12

and this is a very precise copy by a

play37:15

fascinating artist named stur tabant and

play37:18

this is in the show here

play37:21

where she meticulously recreated

play37:24

jasper john's and other people's works

play37:27

using the exact materials that they had

play37:29

used in the precise scale

play37:34

so is it a picture of the painting or is

play37:36

it just the painting right

play37:39

um

play37:40

and the flag comes up a lot in the

play37:42

exhibition uh sometimes as americana

play37:47

as a trinket right as a little thing

play37:50

like at a parade

play37:52

right

play37:52

a toy

play37:59

and in the 1960s

play38:01

many graphic designers made political

play38:03

posters

play38:04

based on the flag and i think they were

play38:06

directly referencing jasper johns and

play38:09

making the poster simply be a flag

play38:12

so not interpreting the stars and

play38:14

stripes as a motif

play38:16

but really recreating the flag

play38:19

but infusing it with this political

play38:21

content

play38:24

at the scale at the proportion of the

play38:27

real thing right of the actual flag

play38:34

this one is

play38:36

stunning

play38:40

and in 1969 jasper johns was asked to do

play38:43

a poster of a flag

play38:45

um to raise money for the anti-war

play38:47

effort in a way i think it is less

play38:49

interesting because it has this big

play38:50

caption underneath

play38:52

maybe the gallery owner added that or

play38:55

something it just seems to take away

play38:57

from the purity of the idea of the thing

play39:00

being the thing and not having this edge

play39:02

around it

play39:05

this is a poster by faith ringgold from

play39:08

1970 and she did it

play39:10

uh advertising

play39:12

a show

play39:14

at judson church in new york city called

play39:17

the people's flag show which was an open

play39:20

call

play39:21

unjuried exhibition where any artist

play39:24

could submit

play39:25

artwork using the american flag and

play39:28

contesting

play39:30

the laws against desecrating the flag

play39:34

and so she's created a poster

play39:36

that is the flag that is the shape of

play39:38

the flag and she's a fascinating amazing

play39:41

artist who

play39:43

used graphic design in her work because

play39:45

it was useful

play39:47

but also to create low-cost art that

play39:50

people could buy

play39:52

and i'm very proud to say that cooper

play39:54

hewitt is in the process of acquiring

play39:56

this and several other posters by faith

play39:58

ring gold

play40:00

and they make i think a really beautiful

play40:03

kind of final chapter to this story

play40:05

about drawing

play40:07

and reproduction

play40:10

three of the artists who were exhibited

play40:13

in this exhibition were arrested

play40:15

for desecrating the flag

play40:19

and this was the painting one of the two

play40:21

paintings that she exhibited in that

play40:23

show in 1970

play40:26

the flag is bleeding

play40:30

and that's faith wrangled in the

play40:32

exhibition with these artworks around

play40:34

her

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and there's abby hoffman with a

play40:41

that's a flag

play40:43

and three artists were arrested

play40:45

including faith ringgold who became

play40:47

known as the judson 3

play40:49

for their

play40:50

confrontation with the flag

play40:54

there's another faith wrangled poster

play40:56

that cooper hewitt is acquiring

play40:58

it's called united states of attica

play41:02

and it's about violence against

play41:04

prisoners in all the states of the of

play41:07

the u.s

play41:09

and other violence against black people

play41:13

by the state

play41:14

state violence against black people

play41:18

it's an incredible poster

play41:20

um and cooper hewitt is really proud to

play41:23

be acquiring this from faith ring gold

play41:28

and it speaks to a history of such

play41:30

posters including this one

play41:33

this work

play41:34

led by ida b wells who did this

play41:38

map studying lynching in the united

play41:41

states and was used as evidence in

play41:44

promoting an anti-lynching

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law in the u.s congress and senate

play41:51

so graphic design doing stuff

play41:54

there's another beautiful poster by

play41:56

faith ring gold

play41:58

and it's using these two colors that are

play42:00

very close in value the purple and green

play42:03

and it reflected a theory a color theory

play42:06

that she was developing at the at the

play42:08

time

play42:10

that she called black light

play42:12

and of course that was a psychedelic

play42:14

kind of term

play42:15

some of us had black lights in high

play42:17

school to make things glow and look cool

play42:20

and so she was she was drawing on that

play42:23

psychedelic meaning

play42:25

but she wanted to use these intense

play42:27

colors deep and dark and jewel-like and

play42:30

close together to celebrate the beauty

play42:33

of black skin

play42:35

and so this poster

play42:37

here we can see the physicality of how

play42:40

it's made

play42:41

with cut paper

play42:45

the poster is building on this painting

play42:48

that she did in 1969

play42:51

also using lettering but in this in this

play42:53

case it's a oil painting with these very

play42:56

close and value colors

play43:00

and she did portraits

play43:02

in this series i love these where the

play43:05

figures are cropped like magazine

play43:07

photographs

play43:11

or this beautiful portrait of a black

play43:13

man with these intense rich colors

play43:17

exploring this this color theory of

play43:20

black light

play43:22

and it's a theory not unlike what the

play43:25

psychedelic poster artists of san

play43:27

francisco were doing

play43:29

with their silk screen posters

play43:32

celebrating the experience of

play43:35

rock and roll

play43:37

often using colors that were very close

play43:39

in value an idea that

play43:41

was taught by joseph albers in his basic

play43:44

design classes at yale

play43:47

where victor moscoso was a student so

play43:49

this high modern

play43:51

bauhaus design theory became the basis

play43:54

of

play43:55

trippy psychedelic posters

play44:01

and to see this interpretation of it

play44:03

with a different register and a

play44:06

different seriousness and meaning behind

play44:08

it

play44:09

i think is a beautiful way to end

play44:12

the evening thank you

play44:22

[Applause]

play44:24

would you like to take some questions

play44:26

ellen

play44:27

sure

play44:28

so just raise your hand i'll bring a mic

play44:30

around to you

play44:39

this is uh more of an observation that i

play44:41

wanted to ask you about but the two

play44:43

articles about pollock and uh

play44:46

yeah they were the titles intentionally

play44:50

referencing each other

play44:52

well i would i would think so so the

play44:55

pollock articles from 1949 and the title

play44:58

was is he the greatest artist in america

play45:02

and then 15 years later roy's article is

play45:05

he the worst artist in america i would

play45:07

think that the good people at life

play45:09

magazine

play45:11

were

play45:12

playing on that and the article about

play45:14

pollock was you know so popular and so

play45:17

upsetting to people you know my

play45:19

six-year-old could do that

play45:21

right it just enraged people

play45:23

that that would be considered

play45:25

art but also was obviously fascinating

play45:28

and world changing

play45:31

and pop art enraged people too

play45:34

and your six-year-old couldn't do it

play45:35

because it's actually really hard

play45:38

harder than it looks and i have to say i

play45:40

never really thought about how did roy

play45:42

lichtenstein make his paintings

play45:44

and it is really it's quite a challenge

play45:46

to make things look like a machine made

play45:49

them and he would go in and retouch the

play45:51

dots if they weren't right

play45:55

and

play45:58

the replicator one whatever it's called

play46:01

duplicator

play46:03

you can see how he's added um let me

play46:06

just get to it

play46:20

well i don't remember where it is but he

play46:21

actually adds like paints highlights on

play46:24

the eyes

play46:27

which i i don't think it's legitimate

play46:30

yeah i have to

play46:32

follow up on that lichtenstein

play46:34

yeah

play46:35

kind of observations

play46:37

was the origin of his

play46:39

kind of work really

play46:41

where he was inspired by

play46:43

aesthetics and style of

play46:46

commercial graphics such as comic books

play46:49

therefore

play46:52

kind of

play46:53

the subject matter of comic books and

play46:55

advertisements just followed suit

play46:57

through that or was he

play46:59

really

play47:01

you know inspired by

play47:03

you know kind of statements that

play47:05

commercial work was saying about society

play47:07

and he was trying to show like a lot of

play47:09

the work with like the

play47:11

romance comic books about women and

play47:14

their relationship with men and

play47:16

just to be consistent you know if that

play47:18

was he was reading he was inspired or

play47:20

the advertisements

play47:22

that

play47:23

the dot the ben day dot was just

play47:25

something that seemed to suit

play47:28

what he was seeing and was inspired by

play47:30

by what the subject matter was so was it

play47:32

style before

play47:34

the subject or did they go together or

play47:36

was he really just interested by what

play47:38

all the

play47:39

media was

play47:40

communicating about society and then as

play47:43

a result that's

play47:45

where the style came from

play47:48

i mean i think it has to be both

play47:50

if he was just interested in the subject

play47:52

matter

play47:54

he would have had a different result

play47:57

and i think

play47:59

he understood the subject matter to be

play48:01

debased

play48:03

right that it wasn't serious

play48:05

even comic book people

play48:06

didn't like these comics

play48:08

you know

play48:10

so they were already like out of date

play48:12

and um

play48:14

seen as the decline of the art of comics

play48:18

right they were the worst comics ever

play48:21

and those are the ones that he picked

play48:24

or like the washing machine

play48:27

um

play48:30

right nobody likes the washing machine

play48:33

this is not anybody's idea of a good

play48:36

time

play48:38

so he's choosing something you know

play48:41

feminized which immediately makes it not

play48:44

cool

play48:45

right this is women's stuff

play48:48

and

play48:49

um

play48:50

it's hard for me to imagine that he

play48:52

likes the subject matter or that he even

play48:55

never did any laundry for that matter

play48:58

right he probably had the privilege of

play48:59

other people doing his laundry

play49:04

but you know so he's making fun of this

play49:07

culture

play49:10

but also

play49:11

enjoying it right

play49:13

and the irony is that people loved those

play49:16

comic book paintings

play49:18

people that maybe didn't like the comics

play49:20

themselves loved the paintings they were

play49:23

just you know i love these paintings

play49:28

yeah

play49:29

um this might be like kind of a bloated

play49:31

question but uh do you think that right

play49:33

now is like a good time for

play49:36

um like pop art to um

play49:38

i guess kind of be like revitalized uh

play49:41

because like for like example like with

play49:43

warhol um

play49:45

a lot of his paintings were of like

play49:46

celebrities and like advertisements

play49:48

you know since we're constantly on like

play49:49

on our phones now

play49:51

like hundreds of advertisements like

play49:53

every day so like wouldn't it be

play49:56

um

play49:57

interesting to see like new artists uh

play50:00

take that and

play50:02

i don't know

play50:03

bring it back

play50:04

i think so i think artists are bringing

play50:06

it back

play50:08

i think um

play50:10

there's incredible richness and

play50:12

figurative painting

play50:13

especially african-american painters

play50:16

portrait painters and figurative

play50:18

painters

play50:19

i wouldn't call them pop artists

play50:22

but i think there's a way in which pop

play50:23

art never died it sort of brought the

play50:26

image back and

play50:29

allowed it to be

play50:32

interrogated as media and as a product

play50:35

of

play50:36

society and not like a window onto the

play50:39

world but

play50:40

you know something processed and

play50:42

mediated and

play50:45

subject to capital and monetization and

play50:48

all that so

play50:50

i think pop art is being revived

play50:54

like i like your question thanks

play51:07

i was

play51:08

struck by that a lot of the source

play51:11

material they're looking at actually

play51:13

seems to be from it's not contemporary

play51:16

to when they're working it's actually

play51:17

seems to be about 20 years before um

play51:20

just looking at you know andy warhol

play51:22

looking at the life mag at the magazine

play51:24

from the 1940s

play51:26

um these ads don't necessarily look you

play51:29

know they look like they come from

play51:31

the jackson pollock 1940s magazine i'm

play51:35

just i'm curious if you have any if you

play51:37

have any thoughts of that and if that's

play51:38

something you you saw as well for

play51:40

example linkedin science comics or those

play51:42

contemporary to when he was i think they

play51:44

were contemporary it's just that they

play51:46

weren't

play51:50

they weren't the comic at the edits

play51:53

essence so like even comic book artists

play51:55

there was a great article by adam gopnik

play51:58

about this

play51:59

but that even the comic book artists who

play52:01

had to do those romance comics

play52:05

all dreamed of getting another job

play52:08

and the other job was doing superhero

play52:10

comics

play52:12

so like these were

play52:15

i think the reason they look like

play52:16

they're out of date it's because

play52:19

they were they were what teenage girls

play52:21

read they weren't the hardcore

play52:25

comic art that people were the comic

play52:28

aficionados were

play52:30

committed to

play52:43

okay good all right thank you very much

play52:45

it was super fun dots

play52:53

[Applause]

play53:04

you