"The hair, the eyes, whatever it is, have to be symbols which-it's funny to say this-are eternal in this way" (R. Licthenstein, Interview with David Sylvester, January 1966, reprinted in Some Kind of Reality).
Roy Lichtenstein's Girls constitute a significant body of work from the most prolific period of the artist's career. Beginning in 1961, Lichtenstein began to turn his attention from consumer goods and childrens' cartoons to the male and female archetypes of the more mature genres of romance and war comics. Using this mass medium as a point of genesis, Lichtenstein further simplified the graphic power of these images in order to achieve a refined and timeless vision of beauty. "I'm interested in the kind of image in the same way that one would develop a classical form, an ideal head for instance. Some people don't believe in this anymore, but that was the idea, in a way of classical work: ideal figures of people and godlike people. Well, the same thing has been developed in cartoons. It's not called classical, it's called cliché" (Ibid.).
Study for Crying Girl transcends this notion of the cliché, becoming an eternal icon. With virtuosic economy, Lichtenstein captures an abiding image of vulnerable femininity. This Girl, a paragon of American ideals, wipes away a single tear from her eye with an elegantly positioned hand. Her lemon yellow hair frames and cascades around her tender pink face, her perfect ruby lips unmarred by her distress. Even in despair, there is a plucky optimism that Lichtenstein has immortalized is this fleeting moment, and attitude that is at the center of his vision of America.