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Roy Lichtenstein
Two Nudes, State I (Corlett 285)

1994

$1,500,000

About

Artist: Roy Lichtenstein (1923-1997) Title: Two Nudes, State I (Corlett 285) Year: 1994 Edition: 10, plus proofs Medium: Relief print in colors on Rives BFK mold-made paper Size: 48 x 41 inches Condition: Excellent Inscription: Signed, dated, and numbered 9/10 by the artist. Notes: Two Nudes 1994 is one of a series of nine screenprints that Lichtenstein produced in 1994 on the subject of the nude. Other examples from the series in Tate’s collection are Roommates 1994 (Tate AL00376) and Nude Reading 1994 (Tate AL00375). The prints were made at Tyler Graphics Ltd., Mount Kisco, New York and are recorded in the second volume of the catalogue raisonné of the artist’s prints (Corlett and Fine 2002). As well as using hand-cut stencils to produce his trademark Benday dots in irregularly shaped pieces, Lichtenstein employed computer-generated dye-cut stencils, produced by Swan Engraving, for some of the areas of dots and patterns in these prints. This copy of Two Nudes is number one of twelve artist’s proofs aside from the edition of forty. In the final years of his life, Lichtenstein took up the theme of the nude – one of the major subjects in the history of visual art – and it became an important part of his late work. As well as series of prints, Lichtenstein made paintings on the subject of the nude, including works such as Nudes with Beach Ball 1994 and Blue Nude 1994. It was the first time that he had approached the subject, but also marked a return to the comic book style of imagery he had first developed in the early 1960s. Rather than working from life, Lichtenstein drew on female figures from the comic books he had first used in the 1960s, removed their clothes and imagined their bare bodies beneath in order to recreate them as nudes. Reproduced as comic-strip heroines, the figures in these works are intentionally provocative, presented to the viewer as a generic object of desire. The nudes also show Lichtenstein developing compositional techniques. Speaking in an interview in 1994, he noted that he explored the subject of the nude because it was ‘a good excuse to contrast undulating and volumetric form with rigid geometry’ (quoted in Robert Hurlburt, ‘Lichtenstein Returns to Comic-Book Style’, Sun-Sentinel, Fort Lauderdale, 13 November 1994, cited in Christie’s, New York, Prints & Multiples, auction catalogue, Sale 2548, 24–5 April 2012). Curator Sheena Wagstaff has explained: In the Nudes, not only did Lichtenstein alter the equation in the compositional tension between motif and formal concerns, but also, crucially, he seized upon a new pictorial language. He deduced and acknowledged the nude as a form through which a new syntax could emerge by means of an understated narrative that implies a relationship between the artist-creator and the nude. (Sheena Wagstaff, ‘Late Nudes’, in Rondeau and Wagstaff 2012, p.95.) The nudes relate to many other areas of Lichtenstein’s output, including reflections, mirrors and interiors, and they demonstrate his ongoing fascination with the modern masters, particularly Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse. He explained: I’ve always been interested in Matisse but maybe a little more interested in Picasso. But they are both overwhelming influences on everyone, really. Whether one tries to be like them or tries not to be like them, they’re always there as presences to be dealt with. They’re just too formidable to have no interest. I think that somebody who pretends he’s not interested is not interested in art. (Roy Lichtenstein, ‘A Review of My Work Since 1961’, in Bader 2009., p.55.) Further reading Mary Lee Corlett and Ruth E. Fine, The Prints of Roy Lichtenstein: A Catalogue Raisonné: 1948–1997, New York and Washington D.C., revised and updated second edition 2002. Graham Bader (ed.), OCTOBER Files 7: Roy Lichtenstein, Cambridge, Massachusetts and London 2009. Gianni Mercuri (ed.), Roy Lichtenstein: Meditations on Art, Milan 2010. James Rondeau and Sheena Wagstaff, Roy Lichtenstein: A Retrospective, exhibition catalogue, Tate Modern, London and Art Institute of Chicago 2012. ROY LICHTENSTEIN (1923-1997) An American painter, print-maker and decorative artist who achieved fame in the 1960s. His paintings, based on motifs and procedures of comic strips and advertisements established him as one of the central figures of American Pop Art. Using bright strident colors and techniques such as Ben-Day dots, he ironically incorporates mass-produced emotions and objects into highly sophisticated references to art history. His Pop images of spectacular color, often with vernacular imagery and witty texts, lend themselves to multiple interpretations.

Details

  • Creator
    Roy Lichtenstein (1923 - 1997, American)
  • Creation Year
    1994
  • Dimensions
    Height: 48 in. (121.92 cm)Width: 41 in. (104.14 cm)
  • Medium
  • Movement & Style
  • Period
  • Condition
  • Gallery Location
    Fairfield, CT
  • Reference Number
    1stDibs: LU134215761081

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About the Artist

Roy Lichtenstein

Roy Lichtenstein is one of the principal figures of the American Pop art movement, along with Andy Warhol, James Rosenquist, Claes Oldenburg and Robert Rauschenberg. Drawing inspiration from comic strips, Lichtenstein appropriated techniques commercial printing in his paintings, introducing a vernacular sensibility to the visual landscape of contemporary art. He employed visual elements such as the halftone dots that comprise a printed image, and a comic-inspired use of primary colors gave his paintings their signature “Pop” palette. Born and raised in New York City, Lichtenstein enjoyed Manhattan’s myriad cultural offerings and comic books in equal measure. He began painting seriously as a teenager, studying watercolor painting at the Parsons School of Design in the late 1930s, and later at the Art Students League, where he worked with American realist painter Reginald Marsh. He began his undergraduate education at Ohio State University in 1940, and after a three year-stint in the United States Army during World War II, he completed his bachelor’s degree and then his master’s in fine arts. The roots of Lichtenstein’s interest in the convergence of high art and popular culture are evident even in his early years in Cleveland, where in the late 1940s, he taught at Ohio State, designed window displays for a department store and painted his own pieces. Working at the height of the Abstract Expressionist movement in the 1950s, Lichtenstein deliberately eschewed the sort of painting that was held in high esteem by the art world and chose instead to explore the visual world of print advertising and comics. This gesture of recontextualizing a lowbrow image by importing it into a fine-art context would become a trademark of Lichtenstein’s artistic style, as well as a vehicle for his critique of the concept of good taste. His 1963 painting Whaam! confronts the viewer with an impact scene from the 1962 DC Comic All American Men of War. Isolated from its larger context, this image combines the playful lettering and brightly colored illustration of the original comic with a darker message about military conflict at the height of the cold war. Crying Girl from the same year featured another of Lichtenstein’s motifs — a woman in distress, depicted with a mixture of drama and deadpan humor. His work gained a wider audience by creating a comic-inspired mural for the New York State Pavilion of the 1964 World's Fair, he went on to be represented by legendary New York gallerist Leo Castelli for 30 years. In the 1970s and ’80s, Lichtenstein experimented with abstraction and began exploring basic elements of painting, as in this 1989 work Brushstroke Contest. In addition to paintings in which the brushstroke itself became the central subject, in 1984 he created a large-scale sculpture called Brushstrokes in Flight for the Port Columbus International Airport in Ohio. Still Life with Windmill from 1974 and the triptych Cow Going Abstract from 1982 both demonstrate a break from his earlier works where the subjects were derived from existing imagery. Here, Lichtenstein paints subjects more in line with the norms of art history — a pastoral scene and a still life — but he has translated their compositions into his signature graphic style, in which visual elements of printed comics are still a defining feature. Lichtenstein’s work is represented in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, Tate Modern, and many others. He was awarded National Medal of Arts in 1995, two years before he passed away.
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