Roy Lichtenstein - Contemporary Art Day Sale New York Thursday, May 14, 2015 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Gifted by the artist to the present owner

  • Catalogue Essay

    Red Apple (Study), 1980, is a two-fold allusion and evidence of Lichtenstein's disparate pictorial vocabulary. The work quotes the artist's pervasive apple motif which is superimposed upon a salute to the bravura brushstroke of the Abstract Expressionists. The result is a stylized pop-art parody of two hallmarks of traditional painting: the still life as subject matter and the brushstroke as a window into the artist's soul. Lichtenstein had pursued the apple motif in his mature work as early as 1972 and would continue to investigate the nature of the still-life throughout his career.

    Commenting on his use of allusions and the nature of drawing, Lichtenstein wrote, "Generally artists, when they draw, are not really seeing nature as it is. They are projecting on nature with their familiarity with other people's art." (R. Lichtenstein as quoted by J.F.March, Roy Lichtenstein Beginning to End, Madrid: Fundacion Juan March, 2007, p. 62) Taking as his subject a fruit, Lichtenstein draws directly from the familiar and natural, stylizing it to the point of abstraction and making it his own.

    Lichtenstein's brushstrokes, dating from about 1965-1966, have a distinctive history as parody of the subconscious expression of ideas through the artist's hand so central to Abstract Expressionism. The brushstrokes were made with calculation and care; the very mechanical methods and aids he employed functioning as the antithesis to all romantic ideas attached to the artist's gesture and stroke. The coupling of the apple motif and the brushstroke is a perfect parody of the canon of western painting and a similarly perfect manifestation of all of Lichtenstein’s painting prowess.

  • 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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Red Apple (Study)

graphite, painted paper collage on paper
28 1/2 x 21 3/4 in. (72.4 x 55.2 cm)
Signed and dated "R Lichtenstein 80" lower right.

$250,000 - 350,000 

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

Contemporary Art Day Sale

New York Day Sale 15 May 2015 11am