Laocoön’s story comes from a lost play by Sophocles, that we know about through mentions by other Greek writers. He attempted to prove that the Trojan Horse was a trick by throwing his spear at it, but snakes were sent by Poseidon to stop him, and were thought by the Trojans to mean that the horse was sacred and not to be touched. Some versions of the story say that Athena blinded him first and then sent the snakes, but either way the gods were with the Greeks.
The sculpture of Laocoön and his sons Antiphantes and Thymbraeus being strangled by the serpent is attributed by the Roman writer Pliny the Edler to three sculptors from the island of Rhodes: Agesander, Athenodoros and Polydorus.
I remember the first time I saw this sculpture in my introductory art history class, and it was one of those right-where-you-wanna-be-in-life moments, after spending two years chasing majors that didn’t click.
This rendition by Roy Lichtenstein is one hell of a take – at this point in his life, he’s developed a recognizable style that can be applied to almost anything. He turned all of art history into bright, cartoonified refinement, using Ben-Day dots for shading and colors galore. This Laocoon evokes the struggle and aesthetic of the masterpiece that inspired it, but makes it more of a lighthearted reference to one of the most influential works of art of all time – sort of nodding at it in thanks for all it’s contributed to the craft of aesthetics and beautiful things.
|Cubist Still Life, 1974|
You can see the rest of the Roy Lichtenstein retrospective on the Art Institute’s website here.
And the rest of my pictures from the Art Institute in Chicago here.
GD Star RatingLaocoön & Roy Lichtenstein,