The Kiss In Art History Part 3: Roy Lichtenstein

Kiss V, Roy Lichtenstein, Pop Art
‘Kiss V’ Roy Lichtenstein, 1964, © Pinterest/Flavorwire

The final part of ‘The Kiss In Art History’ series focuses on ‘Kiss V’ by Roy Lichtenstein painted in 1964.

Lichtenstein’s comic book style art shocked the world when it first emerged in the Pop Art movement in the 1960s. ‘Kiss V’ embodies all the hallmarks of Lichtenstein’s iconic style; bold primary colours, heavy black outlines and pixelated dots.

Crying girls were also a predominant feature of his work, and ‘Kiss V’ is a prime example of this. As with much of pop art, it appears at first to be a surface level commercial artwork, but upon closer inspection, it is far deeper and complex.

There are a range of of different feelings in the artwork; as only the woman’s face is visible, the indications of the painting’s subject come from her. The clutch of her hand on his shoulder in a tight grasp indicates the strength of her emotions that are tied to this man.

The most noticeable feature of the painting is no doubt the tears that are rolling down her cheek. This inevitably lends the question what moment it is that we the viewer are witnessing? Tears can represent either happiness or pain. Are these tears of joy or sadness? The moment depicted by Lichtenstein could therefore be a joyous one where the couple may be reuniting after being apart for so long; or perhaps it is a final embrace   of a breakup or that they are about to endure a period of separation.

What Lichtenstein has created, is the complex range of emotions that can be experienced in an entire relationship, captured in a single image. Relationships can be intense, agonising, full of ecstasy, sadness and happiness. All of these are present in ‘Kiss V.’

Over the ‘Kiss In Art History’ series, we have looked at three different artworks from different movements and how they all depict the same act of kissing but the story of each kiss, as in life, is never the same.

Which was your favourite artwork from the series? Leave your comments below.

Part One: Gustav Klimt

Part Two: Auguste Rodin

What Is Pop Art?

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