Lichtenstein’s pop Brushstrokes are usually seen as parodies of abstract expressionism, the movement that dominated American art in the 1950s. Unlike the emotionally charged, slashing strokes of Jackson Pollock or Willem de Kooning, Lichtenstein did not present the brushstroke as the spontaneous expression of the artist’s feelings, but rather as the result of a controlled act.
Little Big Painting 1965 features the quintessential artistic gesture through an industrial, almost automatic style: he turns attention from the action of painting to its unemotional description. ‘Brushstrokes in painting convey a sense of grand gesture,’ Lichtenstein said. ‘But in my hands, the brushstroke becomes the depiction of a grand gesture.’
In the sense that we are not seeing real brushstrokes, but their dispassionate representation, this and other paintings such as Brushstroke 1965 and Brushstroke with Spatter 1966 are a declaration of intent. The irony is that Lichtenstein avoided photographic techniques to recreate the mechanically reproduced image of the brushstrokes and decided instead to paint them by hand.