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  • "What I see when I stand in front of any interior of Roy’s is a work of an important artist that I immediately recognize: a Calder, a blue sponge sculpture by Yves Klein, a Lichtenstein, a Johns from the eighties…" —Leo Castelli 

    On March 15th, 1989, Roy Lichtenstein became artist-in-residence at the American Academy in Rome. Like many artists before, Rome would be a source of inspiration for Lichtenstein. But unlike his predecessors, the eternal forms of antiquity were not what caught his eye. Rather, Lichtenstein was struck by a furniture advertisement on the side of the road. Intrigued by the simultaneously inviting yet uninhabitable quality of the showroom in the ad, Lichtenstein spent the following evenings thumbing through the yellow pages with a pair of scissors, clipping similarly staged interiors. Lichtenstein’s 1990 print The Living Room embodies the contrasting sentiments found in these showroom advertisements.    
     

    Study for The Living Room, 1990. Graphite drawing on polyester tracing film.

    With thick black outlines rendered by woodcut at monumental scale, The Living Room conveys an immediate sense of depth through perspective. Lichtenstein invites the viewer into this intimate interior, leading the eye inward, with the help of the stark outlining. Bright swaths of color added through successive rounds of screenprinting enliven the image. The rightmost wall is toned with the same red as the floor and ceiling but distinguished by Lichenstein’s iconic benday dots. Though the dots are used on a receding wall, they remain planar and perfectly perpendicular to the viewer’s gaze; the illusion of depth is broken. The result is a flat scene—not a space to inhabit, but a plane to confront. The sleek white armchair takes on the characteristics of an abstract form, no more concrete than the Lichtenstein ‘brushstroke’ painting hanging on the wall ‘behind’ it.  On closer inspection, the plants become mere geometric approximations, not living things at all. In this crystalizing moment, the viewer is confronted by the picture plane just as the artwork beckons us in.

     

    This tension presented in The Living Room is a central feature of Lichtenstein's entire series of interiors—a testament to Lichtenstein's growth as a mature artist. Between depth and flatness, invitation and confrontation, woodcut and screenprint, the interior prints elevate and intensify the very complexity Lichtenstein found in the showroom ads he collected. Curator Michael Rooks applauds this tension in his contribution to Roy Lichtenstein: Classic of the New. To Rooks, it is “the dynamics between absence and presence, intimacy and distance, the public and the private” that cement the interiors as true achievements in the artist’s oeuvre. Former Director of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago Robert Fitzpatrick similarly praised Lichtenstein’s interiors for masterfully displaying “folly of domestic conventions that alternately inspire and reflect these lifeless images.” Incisive, clever and visually rich, interiors like The Living Room stand as a testament to Lichtenstein’s continual growth and excellence as an artist in the final decade of an outstanding life and career.

    • Provenance

      Private Collection, Los Angeles

    • Literature

      Gemini G.E.L. 1502
      Mary Lee Corlett 250

    • 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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The Living Room, from Interior Series (G. 1502, C. 250)

1990
Monumental woodcut and screenprint in colors, on PTI 4-ply Museum Board, with full margins.
I. 52 1/4 x 66 in. (132.7 x 167.6 cm)
S. 58 x 72 in. (147.3 x 182.9 cm)

Signed, dated and numbered 15/60 in pencil (there were also 14 artist's proofs), published by Gemini G.E.L., Los Angeles (with their blindstamp), framed.

Full Cataloguing

Estimate
$70,000 - 100,000 

Sold for $163,800

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Editions & Works on Paper

New York Auction 19-21 October 2021