A Matter of Perspective and Taste

Le Monde, September 9, 2013

This letter by Paul Rodgers, in response to the art critic Philippe Dagen's review of the Simon Hantaï retrospective at the Centre Pompidou in 2013, together with a separate exhibition of Roy Lichtenstein simultaneously presented at the museum, was published in the Le Monde newspaper on Monday September 9th, 2013.


The Pompidou Center, in Paris, has presented, simultaneously, major retrospectives by two different artists: Simon Hantaï and Roy Lichtenstein. Art critic Philippe Dagen has reviewed both. In his article Simon Hantaï Paints Against Painting (Le Monde, May 31), he acknowledges in Hantaï a painter "who has celebrated the independent value of painting, sacred, apart from the world”. Then, in his article Lichtenstein, as one says Nike or Rolex (Le Monde, July 4)the critic sees in Lichtenstein’s work "a model of distribution similar to other media in the age of mass production and consumption". In other words, it would appear that s he saying that Hantaï is unique and Lichtenstein is banal? All the same, the critic complains that the museum’s decision gives pride of place to Hantaï “whose work, we may doubt, is as interesting and important as Lichtenstein’s”. To each his own taste! Hantaï is an artist who stands in relation to the history of Modern Art, while Lichtenstein, as Dagen acutely remarks, takes Duchamp as his model. So, let’s look at history as it takes shape before our eyes: Cézanne, Matisse, Pollock and… Hantaï or Lichtenstein? The matter could be quickly settled by hanging a work of each in the same room for the sake of comparison. Paul Rodgers, New York