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Roy Lichtenstein at the Guggenheim

I CAN STILL REMEMBER Ivan Karp’s “take-this-if-you-dare” look, as he hauled out, face backward, a number of canvases which were to be my first Lichtensteins. How was a guileless critic to know in that distant year (1962), that he would be confronted by what was quickly to become a grand trademark of sixties art? The subjects, the identities of those pictures have passed from my mind, but not their acid shock. To drink in those images was like glugging a quart of quinine water followed by a Listerine chaser. And there was, too, the fierce disbelief that anything so brazen as these commercial icons could have found their way on to prepared and stretched canvas. The very gallery seemed defiled by some quack churl who couldn’t, or didn’t, adhere to the idea of painting as an easel art. For this was a comic strip and mail-order world that unliveably refused to stay in place, one that would

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