Live Ammo (Ha! Ha! Ha!)

Roy Lichtenstein
American (1923-1997)
Live Ammo (Ha! Ha! Ha!), 1962
Oil on canvas

In 1961 Roy Lichtenstein, now a recognized Pop artist, transitioned from abstract painting to comic strips as his new subject matter, adapting their flat colors, strong graphics, and dot screens to monumental paintings. By expanding the scale and changing the context in which we encounter comic book imagery, the artist literally transforms its meaning and significance.  Along with representations of everyday objects and teary-eyed females, war scenes, such as the Chrysler’s Live Ammo, counted among the artist’s earliest and most important works. The Chrysler’s work is the fifth painting in a five-part sequence that was sold as independent works in 1963. The painting presents an ironic commentary on the “action painting” of the New York School, as well as the escalating violence and U.S. presence in Vietnam.