Landscape with Poet (Study)

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  • Provenance

    Galerie Lawrence Rubin, Zurich
    Private Collection, New York
    Lawrence Rubin-Greenberg Van Doren Fine Art, New York
    Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2000

  • Exhibited

    Zurich, Galerie Lawrence Rubin, Roy Lichtenstein Collagen 1994, 5 June - 15 July 1995, no.8 (exhibited and illustrated)

  • Literature

    Roy Lichtenstein Landscape in the Chinese Style, exh. cat., Gagosian Gallery, Hong Kong, 2011, no. 8, p. 118 (illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    A product of a half-century long love affair with classical Chinese art, Roy Lichtenstein’s Landscapes in Chinese Style is one of the famed Pop-Art pioneer’s most nuanced, analytical and breathtaking series of productions. Despite his long-standing interest in the subject matter, the inspiration for its genesis came from the Degas Landscapes exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art New York, held in 1994. There Lichtenstein became fascinated with the idea that amorphous, monochromatic shapes could actually be representational, despite their non-figurative nature. However it was the palpable atmosphere of these monotypes which drew Lichtenstein to make links to Chinese landscape painting – ultimately acting as the catalyst for the creation of the present lot.

    In Landscape with Poet, the artist reminds us of his wholly unique ability to engage and form aesthetic conversations with the work of other artists and cultures – reappropriating them within his own lexicon of dots, black contours and monochromatic zones. Within the Landscapes in Chinese Style series, this image of Landscape with Poet is one of the earliest known examples of vertical paintings that the artist had drafted. It became realized as a series of studies that include a graphite and coloured pencil version (1994), the present lot (1995), as well as a lithograph and screenprint version of an edition of 60 (1996). Differing from the other two versions, this lot is a unique, fully realized, complete artwork, composed of a multi-layered collage of tape, painted and printed paper on board where the artist’s synthetic process becomes clear upon closer inspection. Such use of painted pieces of paper echoes the techniques and materials used by Henri Mattise, in the creation of his famed ‘cut-outs’. Lichtenstein then evokes comparisons to classical Chinese masters, such as Mu Qi and Guo Xi through an intricate matrix of graduated “Benday dots” – stenciled meticulously in order to give the illusion of the image being printed, with the intention of rendering the work mechanical. The juxtaposition of the hand-crafted quality of this present lot, with Lichtenstein’s intention of creating a mechanical-looking outcome of the work is evident here. Diverging and converging in alternate areas, Lichtenstein creates a sensuous perception of depth as well as a serene atmosphere of a transcendental realm, employing extraordinary gentleness largely uncommon to his oeuvre. Although the genre of landscapes was one of the first that the artist interpreted within his archetypal comic-book style of production, Chinese landscape painting allowed Lichtenstein to approach previously-explored notions of compositional principles and visual concepts from a broadened perspective, and therefore acting as a vehicle for creative reinvention during what were to be the last years of the artist’s life.

    Having attended lectures on Eastern Art history during his time at university, Lichtenstein would have been exposed to the landscapes of the Song Dynasty (960-1279), whose social and spiritual ideals permeate throughout the work. Small figures were traditionally included in landscapes not merely as an aesthetic device, but as a means of reminding the viewer of the insignificant transience of human life in the face of the universe, as well as stressing the importance of the interrelationships between man and nature. Lichtenstein mirrors such sentiment, using the vastness of nature to force us to confront our very own existence. By placing a small figure against an expansive backdrop, Lichtenstein also provides spatial orientation, as well as toying with our perceptions of scale and proportions in an innovative way, making us consider each aspect – its details, its intricacies – before interpreting the painting as a singular whole.

    The true genius of this work lies in Lichtenstein’s ability to fuse classical with contemporary, in a way that is wholly archetypal of the artist himself. From employing similar medium orientation – in order to mimic a hanging scroll – to creating voluminous depths and atmospheres within the paintings themselves, he adopts the traditional compositional and visual elements of Chinese art while imbuing the works with his own trademark techniques and motifs. Indeed in this lot, Lichtenstein uses subtle humour, as he did throughout his career, to examine and shed light on the absurdity of Western generalisations and stereotypes. The incorporation of elements such as the rice picker hat and the crooked bonsai tree are the highlights of such, as they make no distinction between Chinese and Japanese cultures - instead using them as common signifiers of Asian culture. Even the title of the series itself makes a sarcastic accusation that there is a singular, universal style of Chinese painting. Through such visual and contextual clichés, Lichtenstein makes us question how we perceive and often cluster other cultures without devoting sufficient time to understanding them.

  • Catalogue Essay


    我們可以由《中式山水系列:山水與詩人》中觀察到,藝術家以其獨特的創作技法,運用圓點、黑色輪廓線和單色塊的配置,詮釋受到的其他藝術家和文化啟發,交融並形成特殊的美學風格。在整個「中式山水」系列當中,本畫《山水與詩人》是目前已知最早的直幅(山水畫形制)作品之一。此稿最終發展為一系列習作,包括一幅石墨及彩色鉛筆版本(1994年)、本作(1995年)、石版畫及一件共六十版的絲網版畫(1996年)。此次拍賣之作品與另外兩個版本相異之處,在於本作是一件獨一無二,由藝術家親手制作; 完成度最高的精品,藝術家用多層膠帶、設色紙本和彩色列印紙本拼貼於木板上,觀者越靠近觀察,這一步步組合成形的製作過程就越清晰地展現於眼前。當中運用上色紙的技法,就像亨利‧馬蒂斯的剪紙畫。李奇登斯坦繼而用密密麻麻的班戴式(Benday)漸變色點距陣,引發視覺幻象,加之以其構圖疏密的安排,作品呈現似牧谿、郭熙等中國山水畫名家之水墨氣韻。這些用模版精心印制的點陣,目的是製造印刷品的錯覺,藝術家故意塑造作品是以機械化生產而成的效果。實際上,《中式山水系列:山水與詩人》創作細緻手續繁複。作品佈局即有留白的分散、亦有緊密的景緻聚合,李奇登斯坦創造出深刻的感性,並營造出超然世外的祥和氣氛。風景畫雖是李奇登斯坦的知名漫畫風格作品的初期題材之一,但中國山水畫讓他得以從另一種角度重新開啟之前鑽研的構圖原則和視覺概念,驅使他晚年再次突破創新。



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Property of an Important American Collector

Landscape with Poet (Study)

signed and dated 'rf Lichtenstein 95' on the reverse
tape, painted paper, and printed paper on board
213.4 x 76.2 cm. (84 x 30 in.)
Executed in 1995, this work will be included in a forthcoming Catalogue Raisonné of the artist’s work, currently in preparation by the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation.

HK$4,500,000 - 6,500,000 

sold for HK$8,140,000

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20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design Evening Sale

Hong Kong Auction 26 November 2017