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Roy Lichtenstein (1923-1997)
PROPERTY FROM CLEVELAND CLINIC GENEROUSLY DONATED BY MRS. SYDELL MILLER 
Roy Lichtenstein (1923-1997)

Expressionist Head

Details
Roy Lichtenstein (1923-1997)
Expressionist Head
incised with the artist's signature, number and date '1/6 rf Lichtenstein '80' (on the reverse lower edge)
painted and patinated bronze with painted wooden base
sculpture: 55 x 41 x 18 in. (139.7 x 104.1 x 45.7 cm.)
base: 32 x 23 x 30 3/8 in. (81.3 x 58.4 x 77.1 cm.)
Executed in 1980. This work is number one from an edition of six.
Provenance
Katherine Komaroff Fine Art, New York
Jeffrey H. Loria & Co., Inc., New York
Acquired from the above by Mrs. Sydell Miller, 2001
Literature
L. Alloway, Roy Lichtenstein, New York, 1983, p. 99, no. 101 (another example illustrated).
J. Hendrickson, Roy Lichtenstein, Cologne, 2012, p. 66 (another example illustrated).
Roy Lichtenstein Sculptor, exh. cat., Venice, Fondazione Emilio e Annabianca Vedova, 2013, pp. 23, 144 and 281, no. 105 (another example illustrated in color).
Exhibited
Saint Louis Art Museum; Seattle Art Museum; New York, Whitney Museum of American Art and Fort Worth Art Museum, Roy Lichtenstein: 1970-1980, May 1981-February 1982, pp. 148, 150 and 153 (another example exhibited and illustrated in color).
New York, 65 Thompson Street, Roy Lichtenstein Bronze Sculpture, 1976-1989, May-July 1989, pp. 56-57 and 89, no. 19 (another example exhibited and illustrated in color).
New York, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum; Los Angeles, Museum of Contemporary Art; Montreal Museum of Fine Arts; Munich, Haus der Kunst; Hamburg, Deichtorhallen; Brussels, Palais des Beaux-Arts and Columbus, Wexner Center for the Arts, Roy Lichtenstein, October 1993-January 1996, p. 332, no. 263 (another example exhibited and illustrated in color).
Washington D.C., Corcoran Gallery of Art, Lichtenstein: Sculptures & Drawings, June-September 1999, pp. 17, 58 and 135, no. 82 (another example exhibited and illustrated in color).
Miami, Museum of Contemporary Art, Roy Lichtenstein: Inside/Outside, December 2001-February 2002, p. 105 (another example exhibited).
London and New York, Gagosian Gallery, Roy Lichtenstein: Sculpture, June-October 2005, pp. 16, 54-55 and 118 (another example exhibited and illustrated in color).
Milan, La Triennale di Milano, Roy Lichtenstein: Meditations on Art, January-May 2010, p. 269 (another example exhibited and illustrated in color).
Paris, Gagosian Gallery, Lichtenstein: Expressionism, July-October 2013, pp. 7-8, 72-73 and 124 (another example exhibited and illustrated in color).
Paris, Centre Pompidou, Roy Lichtenstein: A Retrospective, July-November 2013. p. 356 (another example exhibited).

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Sara Friedlander
Sara Friedlander

Lot Essay

This work will appear in the forthcoming Catalogue Raisonné being prepared by the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation.

One of the most striking of Roy Lichtenstein’s sculptural works, Expressionist Head blends together the artist’s contemporary pop aesthetic with his comprehensive knowledge and understanding of art history. Standing nearly five feet tall, this imposing figure is the only sculpture in a series which the artist began in 1978 in which he took his classic Pop language and combined it with the powerful aesthetic of German Expressionism to bring the artist’s unique pictorial language into a new, more authoritative form. Sitting on top of long slender neck, Lichtenstein comprises his expressionist head from a series of abstracted shapes. Strong, black, pointed lines denote the silhouette of the face and the different features contained within—the hairline, the bridge of the nose and eyes, for example. Lichtenstein fills many of these spaces with primary colors, using the tonality of each pigment to denote the different areas of light and shadow which fall across the face—the bridge of the nose catches the most light, so is colored white; the yellow forms the cheekbones and the red denotes the jowls. To help create the appearance of depth, Lichtenstein forsakes his characteristic Ben-Day dots which populated his classic Pop paintings of the 1960s, replacing them instead with a series of diagonal striations across the cheeks and forehead. These strict markings help to denote the three-dimensional nature of the face, without adding volume to the sculpture. Executed in bronze, this monumental sculpture could be in danger of feeling authoritarian, but with its clever combination of positive and negative space, this form feels remarkably light and nimble.

Expressionist Head continues Lichtenstein’s appropriation of the visual language of dime store comic books that helped to propel him to the forefront of the Pop Art movement in the early 1960s. Along with contemporaries such as Andy Warhol and Tom Wesselmann, Lichtenstein eschewed the gestural abstractions of the previous generation and forged a new artistic language based on the burgeoning consumer culture and explosion in mass media to produce works that were both visually and perceptually striking. Like his paintings, Lichtenstein’s sculptures resulted from his preoccupation with the formal qualities of art and the complex task of representing the ephemeral quality of artistic illusionism. The present work 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 the solidity and clean lines made possible by using metal together with the pure, rich color finish of paint to create a burst of three-dimensional illusionism. As Diane Waldman has observed, “Lichtenstein’s sculpture is an extension of his painting….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” (D. Waldman, quoted in Roy Lichtenstein, New York, 1971, p. 23).

Expressionist Head also demonstrates Lichtenstein’s respect and acknowledgement of art history. It belongs to a series of work that the artist began in 1978 after a visit it Los Angeles. It was here that he was first introduced to the seminal collection of German Expressionist prints and illustrated books belonging to Robert Gore Rifkind (currently housed in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art). Inspired by what he saw, the artist began to produce works that borrowed stylistic elements found in these Expressionist paintings. The White Tree, 1980 evokes the Blaue Reiter landscapes, while Dr. Waldmann, also from 1980, pays homage to Otto Dix’s Dr. Mayer-Hermann, 1926 (Museum of Modern Art, New York). However, with work such as this, Lichtenstein works less from a specific painting, instead choosing to investigate motifs from a number of different sources, including a woodcut by Conrad Felixmüller called Walter Rheiner which he saw in the catalogue for an exhibition on German Expressionism organized by the Sarah Campbell Blaffer Gallery at the University of Houston and a 1921 work by Karl Schmidt-Rutloff entitled Lesender Mann (Man Reading), along with the work of Ernst Ludwig Kirchner.

“I didn’t quote specific pieces as I had done with earlier works derived from Monet and Picasso,” he said, “but I did keep in mind such artists as Karl Schmidt-Rottluff and Erich Heckel. In a certain sense, I have always tried to eliminate the meaning of the original. If I had actually kept in mind German Expressionism in my latest series of paintings, then my work would have seemed to be Expressionist. But for my own subjects I make use of a style rather than a specific painting” (R. Lichtenstein, quoted by P. Jodidio, Connaissance des arts, no. 349, March 1981, translated from the French by Michael D. Haggerty; reprinted in G. Mercurio, Roy Lichtenstein: Meditations on Art, exh. cat., La Trienale di Milano, 2010, p. 261). By plucking stylistic strings while leaving the raw emotional tone of the movement behind, Lichtenstein’s use of Expressionism and other pivotal moments in art history called all remaining boundaries into question.

Throughout his career, Roy Lichtenstein made a complex body of sculpture. If Lichtenstein’s paintings engage the viewer in questions of visual perception, by subverting the illusion of representation, then his sculptures continue this investigation, but this time in three dimensions. Like his paintings, Lichtenstein’s sculptures resulted from his preoccupation with the formal qualities of art and the complex task of representing the ephemeral quality of artistic illusionism. Expressionist Head 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 the solidity and clean lines made possible by using metal together with the pure, rich color finish of paint to create a burst of three-dimensional illusionism.

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