In 1958, Lichtenstein produced a series of drawings featuring the Disney cartoon characters Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck and Warner Bros.’ Bugs Bunny. First introduced in short animated films in the late 1920s and 1930s, these anthropomorphized animals—easygoing Mickey, irascible Donald, braggart Bugs—were part of a broader universe of fictional creatures whose predecessors included Peter Rabbit in the UK and Krazy Kat in the United States.
By the mid-twentieth century, Disney’s and Warner’s creations had become prime exports of US culture. Their prominence made them obvious candidates for Lichtenstein’s consideration, given his abiding interest in popular content. He rendered each of the three famous figures in loose gestures that resonated with his concurrently emerging abstractions. In addition to drawings, Lichtenstein also made semi-abstract paintings of cartoon characters, which he later recalled using as canvas drop cloths when creating the works now known as his earliest contributions to Pop art.
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