Happy Tears is a very popular work if it is to be judged by its asking price. In 2002, it became the highest value Lichtenstein painting of all time when it was sold at auction for $7.1 million. However, in 2005, that accolade was snatched from it by Lichtenstein's work In The Car, which sold for $16.2 million.
Happy Tears is a prime example of Lichtenstein's unique style as it features his classic combination of bold lines and colours that are applied in the form of dots. In the present day, Pop Art is synonymous with Lichtenstein as well as with other artists such as Andy Warhol.
As its name suggests, Pop Art is an art form that focuses on popular culture, often using images of celebrities (such as Warhol's repeated prints of Marilyn Monroe) or easily consumable cartoon style drawings (such as almost all of Lichtenstein's oeuvre) to create something fun and colourful that challenges the strict boundary between the lowbrow and the highbrow in art.
When it began in the 1950s, and as it carried through into the '60s, Pop Art took the form of a rebellion against strict ideas about form and content in art and aimed to create art that had a mass produced feel and was also designed for the masses.
Happy Tears features, like many of Lichtenstein's art works, a central female figure who is experiencing a strong emotion. There is a sense of almost mass produced reality here as the woman's hair matches the colour of her nails.
As such, viewers become aware that Lichtenstein has used the same colour of paint for both parts of this painting and thus we cannot escape the recognition that she has been created by an artist and is not a real person.
Like most of Lichtenstein's works, Happy Tears has both a three dimensional and a two dimensional feel to it, thanks to the pattern of repeated dots that help to make up the woman's skin. This, in its turn, adds to the unreality of the woman whilst at the same time adding a sense of depth and verve to Lichtenstein's depiction of her.