Drowning Girl (also known as Secret Hearts or I Don’t Care! I’d Rather Sink) is a 1963 painting in oil and synthetic polymer paint on canvas by Roy Lichtenstein. Using the conventions of comic book art, a thought bubble conveys the thoughts of the figure, while Ben-Day dots echo the effect of the mechanized printing process.
It is one of the most representative paintings of the pop art movement, and part of the Museum of Modern Art’s permanent collection since 1971. The painting is considered among Lichtenstein’s most significant works, perhaps on a par with his acclaimed 1963 diptych Whaam!. Source [WikiPedia]
- Lichtenstein found inspiration in comic books.
Though comic books had been overlooked by art critics, Lichtenstein, a Manhattan-born painter, relished in their bold lines, vibrant colors, and use of word bubbles to convey speech and thought. While the artist was also a sculptor and lithographer, he’d become best-known for his comic-influenced paintings, which elevated comics’ low-brow aesthetic to high art.
- Roy even mimicked their printing process’s look.
At a glance, Drowning Girl might seem like she’s printed like old-school comics. But Lichtenstein actually recreated this aesthetic with oil and synthetic polymer paint on canvas.
- Lichtenstein was a ground-breaker.
His peers Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns had already been bringing popular imagery into their work. But by dabbling in comic motifs as early as 1958, Lichtenstein was the first pop artist to dive into cartoons and comics, beating even Andy Warhol whose brush with comic-based pieces came in 1960.
- Drowning Girl is a riff off a DC Comic Panel.
Lichtenstein lifted the imagery of the drowning girl and her thought bubble from the splash page of the 1962 comic Secret Hearts #83. There, a story called “Run for Love!” featured a full-page illustration with a drowning dark-haired girl in the foreground. In the background lies a small, capsized boat, and a befuddled blonde man holding on to it. For his 1963 homage, Lichtenstein cropped the image, bumped up the color, thickened the line work, and changed the thought bubble wording from “I don’t care if I have a cramp! — I’d rather sink — than call Mal for help!” to “I don’t care! I’d rather sink — than call Brad for help!”
- The man’s name change was because his drowning girl deserved better.
“A very minor idea,” Lichtenstein has said of the revision of Mal for Brad, “But it has to do with oversimplification and cliché.” Or to simplify, he felt that his cartoon representation of frustrated American Womanhood demanded a boyfriend with “a heroic name.” Mal just wouldn’t cut it.
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