Roy Lichtenstein - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale New York Tuesday, November 15, 2016 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Leo Castelli Gallery, New York
    Mr. and Mrs. Burton Tremaine, Meridian, Connecticut
    Their sale, Christie's, New York, November 9, 1988, lot 10
    Private Collection (acquired at the above sale)
    Christie's, New York, November 15, 2006, lot 33
    Private Collection, New York
    Acquired from the above by the present owner

  • Exhibited

    New York, Leo Castelli Gallery, Roy Lichtenstein: Brushstrokes and Ceramics, November 20 – December 11, 1965
    New York, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Roy Lichtenstein, September 19 - November 16, 1969, no. 103
    Long Beach, California State University Art Galleries, Roy Lichtenstein: Ceramic Sculpture, February 22 - March 20, 1977, no. 13
    Hartford, The Wadsworth Atheneum, The Tremaine Collection: 20th Century Masters, The Spirit of Modernism, February 26 - April 29, 1984, p. 100 (illustrated)
    Art Institute of Chicago; Washington, D.C., National Gallery of Art; London, Tate Modern; Paris, Centre Georges Pompidou, Roy Lichtenstein: A Retrospective, May 16, 2012 - November 4, 2013, no. 27 (Chicago and London) and no. 90 (Paris) (illustrated)

  • Literature

    John Coplans, Roy Lichtenstein, New York, 1972, no. 51, p. 122 (illustrated)
    Constance W. Glenn, Roy Lichtenstein: Ceramic Sculptures, 1977, pl. 13, p. 16 (installation view illustrated)
    Peter Aspden, "Beneath the Surface", Financial Times, January 26 - 27, 2013, p. 17 (illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    “It becomes a very exaggerated, a very compelling symbol that has almost nothing to do with the original” -Roy Lichtenstein on the coffee cup

    In a glossy black and white finish, Roy Lichtenstein’s coffee cups and saucers are a paradigm of the artist’s characteristic pop iconography of the 1960s, which feels ever more relevant in contemporary culture. Composed of the artist’s quintessential Benday dots, the coffee cups are stacked atop each other in a teetering tower, as if left on the counter in haste. First exhibited alongside the artist’s large-scale brushstroke paintings and other ceramic sculptures at Leo Castelli Gallery in his 1965 solo show, Ceramic Sculpture #7 stands out as a reminder of the pop artist’s interest, and in turn influence on, artistic re-appropriations of the most mundane objects from our everyday lives.

    Known for his mastery of two and three-dimensional practices, Lichtenstein first began experimenting with sculpture in the 1940s and 50s, originally with more natural materials such as wood and terracotta. His style further developed in the 1960s when he started producing glazed ceramics, a surface which better allowed him to paint the graphic imagery for which he is most well-known. The repetitive nature of the dots and lines in the present lot attempt to reduce the three-dimensional objects to two-dimensional form, breaking down the sculpture into its pure graphic elements. These designs in black and white, however, distinguish this work amongst his other ceramic sculptures produced at this time, lacking the blue and red that the others feature. It is this quality that makes the monochromatic Ceramic Sculpture #7 a stronger indication of Lichtenstein’s inspiration that directly recalls the artist’s interest in newspaper advertisements, with the tower of mugs reminding the viewer of a black and white ad from the Sunday paper. In this way, Lichtenstein connects with the American consumer on an even more direct level, overtly challenging this notion of pop art—the mundane can be celebrated in the simplest of forms, and further, can be elevated to the highest form of art.

    In its painterly qualities, Lichtenstein’s Ceramic Sculpture #7 reminds coffee drinkers that these cups intentionally lack functionality. “I don’t care what, say, a cup of coffee looks like,” Lichtenstein stated. “I only care about how it’s drawn.” (Roy Lichtenstein quoted in Jack Cowart, ed., Roy Lichtenstein: Beginning to End, exh. cat., Fundación Juan March, Madrid, 2007, pp. 118-19) Thus, in typical pop art fashion, the artist plays with a recognizable symbol and in turn challenges the viewer’s expectations and interpretations. Ceramic Sculpture #7 brings to mind something familiar, while also declaring that art can be found in all sorts of places, even the local diner.

  • Artist Biography

    Roy Lichtenstein

    One of the most influential and innovative American artists of the post-war period, Roy Lichtenstein ushered in the prominence of Pop Art through his high-impact representations of consumer imagery, common entertainment, and the accoutrements of contemporary life rendered in the Ben-Day dots of contemporary comic strips. Central to Lichtenstein’s practice was parody, which enabled the artist to engage with often-disparaged commercial source imagery from an ironic distance as he considered the nature of the banal and probed the boundaries of what fine art could be.


    While Lichtenstein’s early Pop work cemented his status as one of the main figures of one of the most iconic and original movements of postmodernism, he continued to develop his practice over the course of the following decades until his death in 1997. Retaining his characteristic comic style and ironic distance, Lichtenstein engaged new and disparate influences from Abstract Expressionism to Chinese landscape painting to evolve the subject of his own work and consider the contradictions of representation, style, and substance. Lichtenstein is a central figure in the 20th century art historical canon and accordingly his work is represented in the collections of major museums worldwide, including The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Tate, London; and Centre Pompidou, Paris.

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Ceramic Sculpture #7

signed and dated "rf Lichtenstein 1965" on the underside
painted and glazed ceramic
9 1/2 x 7 x 7 in. (24.1 x 17.8 x 17.8 cm.)
Executed in 1965, this work is unique.

$400,000 - 600,000 

Sold for $394,000

Contact Specialist
Kate Bryan
Head of Evening Sale
New York
+ 1 212 940 1267

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

New York Auction 16 November 5 PM EST