Being Positive Amid Assholes
Roy Lichtenstein had a reputation as an abstract painter in the 1950’s. He made large, splashy paintings full of dribbles, which were standard for the time.
Lichtenstein was well respected as a painter, and people appreciated his work. His exhibitions did moderately well.
In the 1960’s he changed his direction from abstract paintings to large paintings copied from comic-book illustrations.
His paintings were unsentimental, too confident, flat, and vacant.
It resulted from a challenge from his son who said, ‘ I bet you can’t paint as good as that, eh, Dad?’ pointing to a Mickey Mouse comic book. So Lichtenstein copies one of the illustrations exactly onto canvas.
Lichtenstein’s friends hated the painting as they had never seen anything like it before and were used to abstract painting full of intense emotions.
Comic paintings were garbage in their eyes.
It was the strongest reaction Lichtenstein’s work had ever received. He realized it was better to get a strong response, even if negative than the silent response he was used to.
He produced more comic book paintings, and critics reprimanded them.
‘The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.’ — Oscar Wilde
Lichtenstein was happy that though hateful, at least he was getting a very robust response.
Eventually, his work struck a chord with the younger members of the art, and he became one of the greatest American pop artists.
If others respond strongly to what you have done, that’s positive though the reaction is negative. Getting no response to your work is a thing to be concerned about.
When you produce new work, no one is going to appreciate it. People will criticize it, but you have to stick to what you are doing. The world is hostile towards the new idea, and it has always happened in the past.