• Post-War and Contemporary Even auction at Christies

    Sale 2355

    Post-War and Contemporary Evening Sale

    10 November 2010, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 45

    Roy Lichtenstein (1923-1997)

    Girl in Mirror

    Price Realised  

    Roy Lichtenstein (1923-1997)
    Girl in Mirror
    signed, dated and numbered 'rf Lichtenstein 3/8 1964' (on the reverse)
    porcelain enamel on steel
    42 x 42 x 2 in. (106.7 x 106.7 x 5.1 cm.)
    Executed in 1964. This work is number three from an edition of eight.


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    Executed in 1964, this work will be included in the forthcoming catalogue raisonné being prepared by the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation.

    Girl in Mirror perfectly blends the conceptual games and wit that mark Roy Lichtenstein's greatest works. The mirror was an important motif in his work from his earliest days, as he explored and deconstructed how the viewer 'reads' images in the modern, media-saturated world. While he found it easy to paint everyday domestic objects by assembling his characteristic Benday dots, a reflection challenged him more, as he tried to capture the fleeting image that appears on the mirror's surface. In Girl in Mirror, Lichtenstein used the graduation of dots to highlight the face and give a sense of light cast across the reflective surface. He deconstructed the not the 'reality' of the mirror but instead the artistic shorthand by which mirrors are represented. By limiting his use of Benday dots to the face's reflection, Lichtenstein highlights the reflection's artificiality. 'Mirrors are flat objects that have surfaces you can't easily see since they're always reflecting what's around them,' Lichtenstein explained.

    'There's no simple way to draw a mirror, so cartoonists invented dashed or diagonal lines to signify 'mirror.' Now, you see those lines and you know it means 'mirror,' even though there are obviously no such lines in reality. If you put horizontal, instead of diagonal, lines across the same object, it wouldn't say 'mirror.' It's a convention that we unconsciously accept" (R. Lichtenstein, quoted in M. Kimmelman, PORTAITS, Talking with Artists at the Met, The Modern, The Louvre and Elsewhere, reproduced at www.lichtensteinfoundation.org).

    Lichtenstein invokes our reflex understanding of the image, tapping into his career-long fascination with how we see, instilled in him early by his teacher Hoyt L. Sherman. Lichtenstein casts a spotlight on the absurd way these abstract dots, lines, and areas of canvas come together and become comprehensible. In Girl in Mirror, he takes an age-old subject, used by artists such as Van Eyck and Velasquez to create a picture-within-a-picture, and then plays with the boundaries between subject and object. Rather than examining popular culture's ephemera, Lichtenstein's Pop Art explores how images function within the broad mass of the populace.

    Lichtenstein decided to execute Girl in Mirror in porcelain enamel on steel, a significant decision since he went on to adopt sculpture as an ever more important part of his career. He was beginning to recognize that diverse mediums were important in helping him to achieve a clean aesthetic that eschewed all signs of the artist's hand. Lichtenstein chose the perfect medium to replicate the mirror's smooth surface, combining steel support with enamel's crisp aesthetic. As the curator Diane Waldman observed, 'With enamel, Lichtenstein accomplished two objectives: he reinforced the look of mechanical perfection that paint could only simulate but not duplicate and it provided the perfect opportunity to make an ephemeral form concrete' (quoted in Roy Lichtenstein, New York, 1971, p. 23).

    Throughout his oeuvre, Lichtenstein challenged rigid art-historical stereotypes while maintaining his idiosyncratic world view. Girl in Mirror embodies Roy Lichtenstein's innovative artistic vision, combining an awareness of art history with a deliberate visual duality contrasting abstraction and realistic depiction.

    Provenance

    Leo Castelli Gallery, New York
    Charles H. Carpenter, New Canaan
    O.K. Harris Works of Art, New York
    Acquired from the above by the late owner, 1973


    Pre-Lot Text

    Property from the Collection of Max Palevsky


    Literature

    E. Johnson, "The Image Duplicators-Lichtenstein, Rauschenberg and Warhol," Canadian Art, vol. 23, no. 100, January 1966, p. 12 (another example illustrated in color).
    A. Boatto and G. Falzoni, eds., Lichtenstein, Rome, 1966 (another example illustrated in color; also illustrated on the cover).
    Roy Lichtenstein, exh. cat., London, 1968, pl. 48, (another example illustrated in color).
    D. Waldman, Roy Lichtenstein, New York, 1971, no. 114 (another example illustrated in color).
    J. Cowart, Roy Lichtenstein, 1970-1980, New York, 1981, p. 16 (another example illustrated).
    Roy Lichtenstein at Colorado State University, exh. cat., Fort Collins, 1982 (another example illustrated in color; also illustrated on the inside back cover).
    Contemporary Great Masters: Roy Lichtenstein, exh. cat., Tokyo, 1992, p. 5 (another example illustrated in color).
    A. Betsky, Three California Houses: The Homes of Max Palevsky, New York, 2002, p. 80 (illustrated in color; also illustrated on the inside back cover).


    Exhibited

    New York, Leo Castelli Gallery, Works by Bontecou, Chamberlain,
    Daphnis, Higgins, Johns, Lichtenstein, Rauschenberg, Scarpitta, Stella, Twombly, Tworkov
    , June 1964 (another example exhibited).
    Kansas City, Nelson Gallery and Atkins Museum of Fine Arts, Kansas City Collects: A Selection of Works of Art Privately Owned in the
    Greater Kansas City Area
    , January-February 1965 (another example
    exhibited).
    Brussels, Palais des Beaux-Arts, American Art in Belgium, May-August 1977, p. 80, no. 83 (another example illustrated).
    Aspen Institute, Roy Lichtenstein, July-September 1997 (another example exhibited).
    Seattle Art Museum, Seattle Collects Lichtenstein, January-May 2000 (another example exhibited).
    Rome, Chiostro del Bramante; Milan, Padiglione di Arte Contemporanea; Trieste, Museo Revoltella and Wolfsburg, Kunstmuseum, Roy Lichtenstein, Riflessi-Reflections, December 2000- January 2001, p. 103, no. 45 (another example illustrated in color; also illustrated on the Wolfsburg cover).
    New York, Gagosian Gallery, Lichtenstein: Girls, May-June 2008, p. 63 (another example illustrated in color).