Roy Lichtenstein - Editions & Works on Paper New York Tuesday, April 18, 2023 | Phillips
  • “Visible brushstrokes in a painting convey a sense of grand gesture; but in my hands, the brushstroke becomes a depiction of a grand gesture.” 
    —Roy Lichtenstein

    A pioneer of Pop Art in the United States, the graphic qualities of Roy Lichtenstein’s art and the bold, primary colors he used helped define an aesthetic for the burgeoning movement in the 1960s. Famed for his comic-book motifs and his use of Ben-Day dots, Lichtenstein’s works are recognized for their mechanical appearance. In direct contrast to the Abstract Expressionists that proceeded the movement, Pop Art often celebrated a mass-produced and industrial aesthetic, devoid of brushstrokes and other explicit indications of the artist’s hand. At Pop Art’s inception, it was this difference that was attacked by critics, who initially viewed the works of Lichtenstein and his contemporaries as empty, vulgar, and highly controversial for their diversions from what was considered to be high art. Regardless of such statements, Pop Art continued to flourish, with Lichtenstein becoming one of the most revered American artists of the twentieth century. However, Lichtenstein satirically responded to early criticisms throughout his career. Firstly, in his Brushstrokes series of 1965-66, where he elevated the gestural brushstrokes of the Abstract Expressionists to the main subject matter of his paintings and parodied them in a heavily mechanized style. Secondly, he frequently revisited paintings from the art historical canon in order to breakdown the distinction between high and low art and to demonstrate the possibilities that the Pop Art aesthetic afforded to him. These two approaches converge to great effect in Lichtenstein’s Landscape Series of 1984-85, which includes Sunshine Through the Clouds (1985).


    In Sunshine Through the Clouds, Lichtenstein takes a favored subject matter of the Post-Impressionists and Fauvists and transforms it using his unique visual vocabulary. Lichtenstein cleverly evokes the brushstrokes of his predecessors through the processes of screenprinting and lithography. This incredibly complex procedure involved the artist first painting the brushstrokes on vellum, using a mixture of powdered pigment and manga. The brushstrokes he created were then transferred on to photo-sensitized plates or screens to retain the fluidity and texture of the original stroke. Through this method, Lichtenstein was able to emulate the presence of the artist’s hand, contrasting this with the graphic woodcut lines which also feature in the image. In doing so, Lichtenstein demonstrates Pop Art’s ability to produce works of equal quality and skill to the venerated French modernists, all the while maintaining some of the graphic qualities that gave Pop Art such a contemporary edge.

    Sunshine Through the Clouds is one of six prints that make up Lichtenstein’s Landscape Series. Other images from the series include The Sower – a work directly inspired by Vincent van Gogh's painting of the same title – and The River, which recalls Impressionist depictions of the Seine, such as Edouard Manet’s The Seine at Argenteuil (1874) or Gustave Caillebotte’s Factories at Argenteuil (1888). Outside of this series, Lichtenstein created his own iterations of Monet’s Rouen Cathedral and Haystacks in 1968 and 1969 respectively, demonstrating a sustained interest in applying the Pop Art aesthetic to seminal works in the art historical canon. Created at a time when Pop Art was already an accepted and highly celebrated movement, Sunshine Through the Clouds highlights Lichtenstein’s unwavering promotion of his visual language and the skill required to produce such works.

    • Provenance

      Private Collection, Los Angeles

    • Literature

      Gemini G.E.L. 1258
      Mary Lee Corlett 216


Sunshine Through the Clouds, from Landscape Series (G. 1258, C. 216)

Lithograph, woodcut and screenprint in colors, on Arches paper, with full margins.
I. 52 3/8 x 37 in. (133 x 94 cm)
S. 55 1/8 x 39 3/4 in. (140 x 101 cm)

Signed, dated and numbered 'PP II' in pencil (a printer's proof, the edition was 60 and 11 artist's proofs), published by Gemini G.E.L., Los Angeles (with their blindstamps and inkstamp on the reverse), framed.

Full Cataloguing

$60,000 - 80,000 

Sold for $95,250

Contact Specialist
212 940 1220


Editions & Works on Paper

New York Auction 18 - 20 April 2023