As Lichtenstein: A Retrospective opens at Tate Modern, fashion designer Henry Holland reflects on a work by the artist in the Tate collection
I have always loved Lichtenstein’s work, and when I first moved to London I bought a print of Ohhh…Alright 1964. My friend bought one too. We both still have it on the wall in our houses, so it – and the artist – has really personal meaning for me. I like the girl’s sarcastic tone, and the comic-book layout. Lichtenstein’s instantly recognisable motifs and imagery now lend themselves to fashion and film, just as he borrowed from comic strips and advertising to create fine art. This particular piece, Sandwich and Soda, is no exception and is the perfect iconic American image. His paintings managed to be simultaneously satirical and celebratory, using references from familiar objects and the media around him to comment cleverly on an interesting period in US cultural history. For me, this totally represents that period; a very accurate documentation of something quite banal, yet still quite humorous.
His work continues to be a source of inspiration to so many designers working today. For example, Whaam! from the Tate collection is currently being used on New York-based designer Phillip Lim’s knitwear and accessories. Lichtenstein’s use of colour is brave, and this, coupled with the bold lithographic style, speaks to people who are involved in creating objects that make a visual statement.
In his more abstract pieces, I love the feeling of movement, as if the brush has literally just left the picture with the paint still wet and dripping down the canvas, but Sandwich and Soda is so unapologetically static – yet still full of energy and vibrance.