Executed in 1980, this work will be included in the forthcoming catalogue raisonné being prepared by the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation.
Collage for Yellow Apple is a two-fold allusion and evidence of Lichtenstein's disparate pictorial vocabulary. The work quotes the artist's pervasive apple motif which is superimposed upon a salute to the bravura brushstroke of the Abstract Expressionists. The result is a stylized pop-art parody of two hallmarks of traditional painting: the still life as subject matter and the brushstroke as a window into the artist's soul. Lichtenstein would continue to pursue the apple motif, as is evidenced by the celebrated Apple Sculpture of 1982. "The artist's capacity to condense human experience in images not seen before was a prime test of humanistic art. However, the notion of perpetual invention as the proper role of artists is implicitly resisted by Lichtenstein's conspicuous quotations." (L. Alloway, Lichtenstein, New York p.75)
Commenting on his use of allusions and the nature of drawing, Lichtenstein wrote, "Generally artists, when they draw, are not really seeing nature as it is. They are projecting on nature with their familiarity with other people's art." (R. Lichtenstein as quoted by J.F.March, Roy Lichtenstein Beginning to End, Madrid, p.62) Taking as his subject a fruit, Lichtenstein draws directly from the familiar and natural and then stylizes it to the point of abstraction, making it his own.
Lichtenstein's brushstrokes, dating from about 1965-1966, have a distinctive history as parody of the subconscious expression of ideas through the artist's hand so central to Abstract Expressionism. The brushstrokes were made with calculation and care by mechanical means, the very mechanical methods and aids he employed proposing the antithesis of all romantic ideas attached to the artist's gesture and stroke. "The formality of Lichtenstein's art is the result of reconciliation between what the street gives and what the canvas proscribes." (L. Alloway, Lichtenstein, New York, p.42). The coupling of the apple motif and the brushstroke is a perfect parody of the canon of great painting and thus classic Lichtenstein.