Roy Lichtenstein - Editions & Works on Paper New York Tuesday, April 19, 2022 | Phillips

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  • "It started when I tried to photograph a print by Robert Rauschenberg that was under glass. But the light from a window reflected on the surface of the glass and prevented me from taking a good picture. But it gave me the idea of photographing fairly well-known works under glass, where the reflection would hide most of the work, but you could still make out what the subject was. Well, I tried to do a few photographs in this manner; but I am not much of a photographer. Later the idea occurred to me to do the same idea in painting; and I started this series on various early works of mine … It portrays a painting under glass. It is framed and the glass is preventing you from seeing the painting. Of course, the reflections are just an excuse to make an abstract work, with the cartoon image being supposedly partly hidden by the reflections."
    —Roy Lichtenstein  

    Lichtenstein’s Reflections began as a series of three paintings of the comic book character Wimpy in 1988 and evolved to reference some of the most iconic works of his own oeuvre. After working through his ideas on canvas, Lichtenstein took this concept to the printing press at Tyler Graphics, Ltd. in Mount Kisco, New York from 1989 to 1990. As a student at Ohio State University, Lichtenstein experimented with mixing several techniques into one print – developing a sophisticated understanding of the unique mark-making potential of each medium. It is no surprise that throughout his career he continued to use his deft understanding of printmaking to manipulate multiple techniques to obtain his desired visual effect. Taking advantage of the extensive facilities of Tyler Graphics and Ken Tyler’s innovative approach to printmaking, Reflections on the Scream contains elements of lithography, screenprinting, woodcut, and metalized collage on an impressive scale.  

    "The radicality of Roy’s approach to the problem of representing the new is that it remembers the old position, the old history."
    —David Salle in Roy Lichtenstein Reflected 

    In Reflections on the Scream, Lichtenstein crafted a playful double entendre with his title and imagery. Returning to the comic book imagery so evocative of the Pop movement of the 1960s, the baby Swee’pea from Popeye takes center stage. The iconic nightgown identifies the infant within American pop culture, but by composing the image with Swee’Pea’s head thrown back our focus is directed to the wide-open mouth and the emotion within the scene. With several artfully placed diagonal lines radiating from Swee’Pea’s head, it’s difficult to look at this work and not feel the visceral reaction of a baby wailing. Lichtenstein’s masterful choice of medium is seen here in the choice of woodcut to render the abstracted mouth. The organic woodgrain texture of the woodblock comes through and perfectly captures the raw emotion, heightening the sense of drama in the piece. 


    While the imagery goes back to the 1960s, the title of the print dates back another half a century and references Edvard Munch’s The Scream. As one of the most recognizable images of the modern era, this painting, brimming with emotion, speaks to anxiety and fear within the human experience. The Scream has been parodied and reproduced commercially world-wide and Lichtenstein’s reference to the masterpiece was more than just tongue and cheek. Decades into his own successful art career, Lichtenstein found his own works gracing t-shirts, calendars, and other gift-shop ephemera – much like Munch’s masterpiece.  


    In addition to the literal use of reflective materials and inspiration drawn from seeing a reflection on glass, self-reflection has always been an important element of Lichtenstein’s work.  In the foreword of the exhibition text for Roy Lichtenstein Reflected, artist David Salle remarks, “I’ve come to see Roy’s later work as the embodiment of the relentlessly exploratory and self-revealing journey through pictorial abstraction...” While the reflections within this series serve a formal purpose within the picture plane, they also serve a metaphorical one as Lichtenstein reflected on an accomplished and expansive artistic career. 

    • Literature

      Mary Lee Corlett 243


Reflections on The Scream, from Reflections series (C. 243)

Monumental lithograph, screenprint and woodcut with metalized PVC collage with embossing in colors, on Somerset paper, with full margins.
I. 42 1/4 x 59 1/4 in. (107.3 x 150.5 cm)
S. 48 3/4 x 65 3/8 in. (123.8 x 166.1 cm)

Signed, dated and numbered 8/68 in pencil (there were also 16 artist's proofs), published by Tyler Graphics, Ltd., Mount Kisco, New York (with their blindstamp), framed.

Full Cataloguing

$100,000 - 150,000 

Sold for $176,400

Contact Specialist

212 940 1220

Editions & Works on Paper

New York Auction 19 - 21 April 2022