Roy Lichtenstein was one of the founders and innovators of Pop Art, which brought the techniques and content of mechanically reproduced imagery into the world of fine art. His hallmark style of hand painting the typically mechanical printing process of Ben-day dots set forth original meditations on the genres and history of art as well as wry commentaries on modern living, presenting the road between art and popular culture as a two-way street, each informed and enhanced by the other. Lichtenstein’s paintings are often seen as ironic or satirical accounts of art history, demonstrating how its images become common property and are codified by advertising, printing and other media for public consumption.
In the early stages of his career, Lichtenstein used comics to deflate the egos and pretensions of high modernism. Live Ammo (Blang!), 1962, is an altered comic image showing a large gun firing a shot, smoke billowing into the corners of the frame. Lichtenstein used this image as a piece of found abstraction, and the water and smoke of the gun shot are meant to resemble the all-over compositions made famous by Jackson Pollock in the late 1940s. Lichtenstein parodied the existential melodrama of the Abstract Expressionism movement in this work and critiques the rhetoric that attributed a metaphysical or transcendent import to Abstract Expressionist paintings. Lichtenstein’s version of Abstrat Expressionism is removed of pomp, turning august concepts and theories into equally clever comedy.