Roy Lichtenstein. Girl with Ball. 1961

Roy Lichtenstein

Girl with Ball

1961

Medium
Oil on canvas
Dimensions
60 1/4 x 36 1/4" (153 x 91.9 cm)
Credit
Gift of Philip Johnson
Object number
421.1981
Department
Painting and Sculpture
This work is on view on Floor 5, with 8 other works online.
Roy Lichtenstein has 122 works online.
There are 2,314 paintings online.

Lichtenstein took the image for Girl with Ball straight from an advertisement for a hotel in Pennsylvania's Pocono Mountains. In pirating it, however, he transformed the photographic image, using a painter's version of the techniques of the comic-strip artist. The resulting simplifications intensify the artifice of the picture, concentrating its careful evocation of fun in the sun. The girl’s round mouth is more doll-like than female; any sex appeal she had has become as plastic as her beach ball.

Gallery label from 2011

Lichtenstein took the image for Girl with Ball straight from an advertisement, for a hotel in the Pocono Mountains. In pirating the image, however, he transformed it, submitting the ad's photograph to the techniques of the comic-strip artist and printer—and transforming those techniques, too, into a painter's versions of them. The resulting simplifications intensify the artifice of the picture, curdling its careful dream of fun in the sun. The girl's rounded mouth is more doll-like than female; any sex appeal she had has become as plastic as her beach ball.

In choosing the banal subject matter of paintings like Girl with Ball, Lichtenstein challenged the aesthetic orthodoxy of the time, still permeated by the spiritual and conceptual ambitions of Abstract Expressionism. The moral seriousness of art, and art's longevity, seemed foreign to this cheap, transient ad from the consumer marketplace, a sector of roiling turnover. Startling though the image was as an artwork, in fact, as advertising it was already old-fashioned—so that Lichtenstein's painting admits of a certain nostalgia. His simulation of printing similarly robs the technology of the polish it had already achieved: overstating the dots of the Benday process, and limiting his palette to primary colors, he exaggerates the limitations of mechanical reproduction, which becomes as much the subject of the painting as the girl herself.

Publication excerpt from The Museum of Modern Art, MoMA Highlights, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, revised 2004, originally published 1999, p. 238

If you would like to reproduce an image of a work of art in MoMA's collection, or an image of a MoMA publication or archival material (including installation views, checklists, and press releases), please contact Art Resource (publication in North America) or Scala Archives (publication in all other geographic locations).

If you would like to license audio or video footage produced by MoMA, please contact Scala Archives (all geographic locations) at firenze@scalarchives.com.

If you would like to reproduce text from a MoMA publication or moma.org, please email text_permissions@moma.org. If you would like to publish text from MoMA's archival materials, please fill out this permission form and send to archives@moma.org.

This record is a work in progress. If you have additional information or spotted an error, please send feedback to digital@moma.org.