Roy Lichtenstein - Editions & Works on Paper New York Tuesday, April 18, 2023 | Phillips
  • A product of a half-century long love affair with classical Chinese art, Roy Lichtenstein’s Landscape with Poet is one of the famed Pop-Art pioneer’s most nuanced and analytical subjects. Despite his long-standing interest in the subject matter, the inspiration for its genesis came from the Degas Landscapes exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art New York, held in 1994. There, Lichtenstein became fascinated with the idea that amorphous, monochromatic shapes could be representational, despite their non-figurative nature. However, it was the palpable atmosphere of these monotypes which drew Lichtenstein to make links to Chinese landscape painting – ultimately acting as the catalyst for the creation of the present lot.


    In Landscape with Poet, the artist reminds us of his wholly unique ability to engage and form aesthetic conversations with the work of other artists and cultures – reappropriating them within his own lexicon of dots, black contours, and monochromatic zones. This image of Landscape with Poet is one of the earliest known examples of vertical works that the artist created. Lichtenstein evokes comparisons to classical Chinese masters, such as Mu Qi and Guo Xi through an intricate matrix of graduated “Benday dots”. Diverging and converging in alternate areas, Lichtenstein creates a sensuous perception of depth as well as a serene atmosphere of a transcendental realm, employing extraordinary gentleness largely uncommon to his oeuvre. Although the genre of landscapes was one of the first that the artist interpreted within his archetypal comic-book style of production, Chinese landscapes allowed Lichtenstein to approach previously-explored notions of compositional principles and visual concepts from a broadened perspective, and therefore acting as a vehicle for creative reinvention during what were to be the last years of the artist’s life.


    Having attended lectures on Eastern Art history during his time at university, Lichtenstein would have been exposed to the landscapes of the Song Dynasty (960-1279), whose social and spiritual ideals permeate throughout the work. Small figures were traditionally included in landscapes not merely as an aesthetic device, but as a means of reminding the viewer of the insignificant transience of human life in the face of the universe, as well as stressing the importance of the interrelationships between man and nature. Lichtenstein mirrors such sentiment, using the vastness of nature to force us to confront our very own existence. By placing a small figure against an expansive backdrop, Lichtenstein also provides spatial orientation, as well as toying with our perceptions of scale and proportions in an innovative way, making us consider each aspect – its details, its intricacies – before interpreting the print as a singular whole.


    The true genius of this work lies in Lichtenstein’s ability to fuse classical with contemporary, in a way that is wholly archetypal of the artist himself. From employing similar medium orientation – in order to mimic a hanging scroll – to creating voluminous depths and atmospheres within the works themselves, he adopts the traditional compositional and visual elements of Chinese art while imbuing the works with his own trademark techniques and motifs.

    • Provenance

      Gemini G.E.L., New York
      Acquired from the above by the present owner, 2011

    • Literature

      Gemini G.E.L. 1673
      Mary Lee Corlett 303

Property from a Private Collection


Landscape with Poet (G. 1673, C. 303)

Monumental lithograph and screenprint in colors, on Lana Lanaquarelle Watercolor paper, with full margins.
I. 84 x 30 in. (213.4 x 76.2 cm)
S. 90 1/4 x 36 1/8 in. (229.2 x 91.8 cm)

Signed, dated and numbered 7/60 in pencil (there were also 12 artist's proofs), published by Gemini G.E.L., Los Angeles (with their blindstamps), framed.

Full Cataloguing

$40,000 - 60,000 

Sold for $97,790

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212 940 1220


Editions & Works on Paper

New York Auction 18 - 20 April 2023