Roy Lichtenstein (1923-1997)

Standing Explosion (Red)

Roy Lichtenstein (1923-1997)
Standing Explosion (Red)
signed and dated 'rf Lichtenstein '66' (on one of the legs)
porcelain enamel on steel
38 x 25 x 30 in. (96.5 x 63.5 x 76.2 cm.)
Executed in 1966. This work is one of six unique versions.
Leo Castelli Gallery, New York
Mr. and Mrs. Frederick R. Weisman, Beverly Hills, 1967
Gagosian Gallery, New York
Thomas Ammann Fine Art, Zurich
Private collection, Switzerland
Neal Meltzer Fine Art, New York
Acquired from the above by the present owner
Lichtenstein: Sculpture & Drawings, exh. cat., Washington, D.C., 1999, p. 11 (illustrated in color).

Lot Essay

Executed in 1966, this work will be included in the catalogue raisonné being prepared by the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation.

For Roy Lichtenstein the image of the explosion became one of his signature motifs that he used throughout much of his early career. It made its first appearance in the early 1960s as part of his images of air-to-air combat like Blam (1962) and Live Ammo (Blang)(1962) but it wasn't until 1965 and his Explosion series that Lichtenstein began to explore the aesthetic possibilities of the shape in its own right.

Lichtenstein's sculptures resulted from his preoccupation with the formal qualities of art and the difficult task of representing the ephemeral quality of artistic illusionism. Standing Explosion is the result of his dilemma of how to produce a three dimensional object whilst still retaining the aesthetic qualities of his two dimensional work. His unique solution was to combine several smooth colorful layers of painted steel to create a burst of three-dimensional illusionism. As Diane Waldman has observed, 'Lichtenstein's sculpture is an extension of his painting. 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).

The fully sculptural Standing Explosion is the third and final capitulation of the "explosion" theme. In creating this piece, Lichtenstein was making tangible what he had previously extracted as an indexical reference to reality. By bringing to life what he had originally wished to highlight as artificial, Lichtenstein was doubling back and commenting on his own formal development. In retrospect, the self-referential gesture of Standing Explosion is a powerful summation to one of the most thought provoking formal explorations of Lichtenstein's career.

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