The Phantom by Paul Hartigan
Orginal Handmade Screenprint
Image size in millimetres: 400 x 590
Edition of 120 hand printed, signed and numbered by Paul Hartigan.
This beautifully handprinted screenprint by NZ's master of pop art is printed on superb 300gsm Fabriano archival stock. Recently Webbs wrote about the importance of this image in the artists' oeuvre. In their auction catalogue (the subsequent sale of the original Phantom painting set a New Zealand record for a Paul Hartigan artwork) they wrote "The Phantom captures the spirit of the Pop Art movement that was beginning to blossom in New Zealand in the early 1970s. Indeed, Hartigan was one of the first New Zealand artists to embrace the central tenets of Pop and to adopt an international outlook when the domestic art scene was still dominated by regionalism, underpinned by an elemental focus on the New Zealand landscape. In doing so, Hartigan rebelled against his teachers, including Colin McCahon, Garth Tapper and Robert Ellis who all promoted a strong New Zealand perspective, and sought out the comparative globalism of artists like Pat Hanly. Completed during an era of immense social, political and cultural change, Hartigan's The Phantom speaks of a young artist's desire to connect with current British and American Pop through the artistic discourse of such revered artists as Alan Jones, Peter Blake, Jim Dine, Jasper Johns, Andy Warhol and Robert Indiana. Visually arresting, Hartigan's The Phantom features large expanses of unmodulated purple, orange and pink complete with thick black outlines. Executed in slick enamel paint, tightly cropped and presented on a larger-than-life scale, Hartigan's glossy comic-book figure possesses the necessary credentials of a seemingly commercial style combined with a subject matter taken directly from popular culture to label it 'Pop Art' painting. As such, The Phantom clearly evokes the tenets of Pop Art which, as a movement, sought to celebrate popular culture with its trashy glamour, its transitory fads and its obsession with celebrities and commodities, elevating the popular images and signs of this culture into the realm of high art. However, in the case of Hartigan's The Phantom (as in many works by some of his American contemporaries), one of the central functions of the painting is to undercut these aspects of social triviality, banality and trash with pointed observations on the darker side of a seemingly innocuous culture. In a similar manner to that of Roy Lichtenstein, whose comic-book figures were comprised of hand-painted Ben Day dots, Hartigan's numerous areas of dripping paint immediately draw attention to the artist's hand and the process of construction, successfully negating the possibility for the spectator to be wholly subsumed into a pictorial illusion. The drips of paint further serve to add a dimension of pathos to Hartigan's comic-book hero. Concentrated in the area around the Phantom's eye-mask, the drips come to function as the tears of the superhero, casting a poignant comment on New Zealand society that heralded unemotional, stoic bravado as the epitome of potent masculinity. It was clear that Hartigan's The Phantom, which was exhibited as part of The Cartoon Show at the Auckland City Art Gallery in 2001, had lost none of its appeal and punch over the course of 30 years with John Daly-Peoples testifying to its enduring status by claiming that The Phantom was a major image used by Pop artists from the 1960s, but it was Paul Hartigan who used it first in New Zealand followed by other artists such as Dick Frizzell and Richard Wolfe. Hartigan's Phantom has become the iconic image of New Zealand Pop Art of the 1970s."
The Phantom by Paul Hartigan features in these collections at New Zealand's specialist art print store:
Paul Hartigan Prints
New Prints in Stock