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Girl with Hair Ribbon

Artist: Roy Lichtenstein
Created: 1965
Dimensions (cm): 121.9 x 121.9
Format: Oil and magna on canvas
Location: Private collection



Girl With Hair Ribbon was painted by Roy Lichtenstein during a period in which he was working with comics exclusively. He has subsequently been forever associated with comics, and his paintings from that period are his most well-known, even though it lasted only four years. Andy Warhol worked with comics too, but Lichtenstein, having more fully fleshed the idea out and bringing it closer to its logical conclusion, is more closely associated with them in the pantheon of American pop artists.

Within Lichtenstein's comics period, there was a period where he exclusively painted close-ups of women. Girl With Hair Ribbon comes from this period. In Girl, as with everything from that sub-period, the highly stylized beauty of the woman's face makes for an overpowering pure femininity in the painting. However, a certain narrative quality also pervades the painting. Even though taken out of context, the image still retains some of the narrative qualities of the comic it was taken from. The woman is looking out towards the viewer, with an expression that hints at longing, pensiveness, or perhaps even fear. We the viewers are left with a tiny fragment of a story, but a fragment nonetheless. The image, then, is not a mere portrait of femininity, but of the affect the unseen phenomenon of the comic's original story have on what can see in the frame.

The aesthetic of Lichtenstein's comic paintings is achieved in a similar manner. The original aspects of the image are maintained, but its size is greatly increased and a single detail is focused on, in this case the woman's head and face. The stark, thick line work becomes even more noticeable. Solid coloration is juxtaposed with regular patterns of colored dots, the method used to print color comics. The result is a deliberately incomplete decontextualization of aesthetic, like the painting's narrative qualities.

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