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  • Art relates to perception, not nature.”  Roy Lichtenstein

    Pop Art was an era-defining movement of postwar America, and Roy Lichtenstein one of its central players. With his instantly recognisable, tongue-in-cheek artworks based on mass culture imagery, Lichtenstein triumphantly challenged the traditions of fine art and instilled a new form of ‘anti-art’ in the canon of art history – ‘anti-contemplative, anti-nuance, anti-getting-away-from-the-tyranny-of-the-rectangle, anti-movement-and-light, anti-mystery, anti-paint-quality, anti-Zen, and anti all of those brilliant ideas of preceding movements which everyone understands so thoroughly.’ [1]  

     

    In the mid-1960s, wanting to grow beyond the comic book motifs that had brought him to prominence, Lichtenstein turned his formal graphic vocabulary of Ben-Day dots, black outlines, and pure, unmodulated colour towards creating a series of sublime images of the sea and sky, a theme he returned to repeatedly over the course of four decades. These imaginary landscapes and seascapes were pared down to a series of essential lines and moiré textures representing the horizon line, streaks of cloud and gently rippling waves. Abstraction freed Lichtenstein to experiment with materials and optical effects, coinciding with the dazzling rise of the Op Art, a movement which first emerged in 1964. 

     

    Bridget Riley
    Bridget Riley, Fall, 1963
    © Bridget Riley 2020

     

    Seascape #16 is one of the seminal works of this era. Central to Lichtenstein’s radical series of seascapes, landscapes, and even moonscapes, was the use of Rowlux and Mylar, shiny sheets of plastic that created the illusion of unstable, shifting surfaces at different angles. Originally used for highway signage, Lichtenstein was drawn to their iridescent, almost holographic quality that mimicked the shimmering and ephemeral effects of light and water. First discovered by Lichtenstein in a novelty store, their industrial, ready-made nature appealed to Lichtenstein’s innate sense of creativity: ‘It was vulgar enough that he could enhance it, transform it into something that was aesthetic,’ explained Jack Cowart, executive director of the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation. ‘That was a nice hidden interest: how to take something that was degraded and improve it to an object of aesthetic contemplation.’ [2] Lichtenstein also gave free rein to his long-held fascination with kinetics, incorporating backlights and electric motors into many works of this period to add a fourth dimension to the viewer’s experience. 

     

    Roy Lichtenstein Seascape
    Roy Lichtenstein, Seascape I from New York Ten, 1964, published 1965
    Collection of MoMA, New York

     

    Seascape #16 was considered important enough to be included in Lichtenstein’s first museum survey, a retrospective in 1967 which started at the Pasadena Art Museum and traveled to the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis. In 2015 a collaboration between Guild Hall and the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation, “Roy Lichtenstein: Between Sea and Sky”, further profiled the artist's exploration of the land- and seascapes genre. Today Lichtenstein’s sculptures and paintings are regarded as generational icons. Throughout his career he was honoured with major institutional retrospectives including ones at the Tate Gallery, London (becoming the first American to exhibit there), the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, and after his passing at the Art Institute of Chicago, the Centre Pompidou, Paris and the National Gallery, Washington, D.C., amongst others. His works are held in prominent public collections including the National Gallery and the Art Institute of Chicago and are highly sought after by collectors.

     

    Roy Lichtenstein

     

     

    [1] Roy Lichtenstein, quoted in Gene Swenson, 'What is Pop Art? Interviews with eight painters', Art News 67, November 1963, pp. 25-27 

    [2] Jack Cowart, quoted in Julia Felsenthal, ‘Artsplainer: Roy Lichtenstein and the Sea in East Hampton’, Vogue, 3 August 2015, online 

    • Provenance

      Leo Castelli Gallery, New York (LC #424)
      Ferus/Pace Gallery, Los Angeles
      Tokyo Gallery, Tokyo (acquired from the above in June 1968)
      Private Collection
      Sotheby's, New York, 19 May 2017, lot 164
      Acquired at the above sale by the present owner

    • Exhibited

      Pasadena Art Museum; Minneapolis, Walker Art Center, Roy Lichtenstein, 18 April – 30 July 1967, no. 50, p. 20

    • 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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Property of a Lady

187

Seascape #16

signed and dated 'rf Lichtenstein '66' on the reverse
Rowlux, Mylar and cut-and-pasted printed paper on board, originally with motorised lamp
56 x 61 cm. (22 x 24 in.)
Executed in 1966.

Full Cataloguing

Estimate
HK$550,000 - 750,000 
€57,900-78,900
$70,500-96,200

Sold for HK$693,000

Contact Specialist

Danielle So
Associate Specialist, Head of Day Sale
[email protected]

20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design Day Sale in Association with Poly Auction

Hong Kong Auction 7 June 2021