ROY LICHTENSTEIN (1923-1997)
ROY LICHTENSTEIN (1923-1997)
ROY LICHTENSTEIN (1923-1997)
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ROY LICHTENSTEIN (1923-1997)
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Property from The Margaret E. Whitmer Trust, Fairlawn, Ohio
ROY LICHTENSTEIN (1923-1997)

Unique Mosaic Low Table, 1957

Details
ROY LICHTENSTEIN (1923-1997)
Unique Mosaic Low Table, 1957
table base likely produced by Dunbar, USA
glass, walnut
18 1/8 x 24 1/8 x 24 1/8 in. (46 x 61.3 x 61.3 cm)
Provenance
Private Collection, Ohio, acquired directly from the artist, 1957
Further Details
This lot has been accepted into the Roy Lichtenstein Catalogue Raisonné with the RLCR no. 504.

Brought to you by

Daphné Riou
Daphné Riou SVP, Senior Specialist, Head of Americas

Lot Essay

In 1957 Roy Lichtenstein produced three mosaic tables tops, foreshadowing the unique visual understanding with which the Pop artist would go on to revolutionize the art world. Bold blocks of primary and secondary color are arranged in geometric pattens, suggesting a mysterious dissolved form but still containing vestiges of abstraction. These mosaic surfaces have been regarded as a prefiguration of the artist’s signature Ben-Day dots, the distinctive comic book motif that would became the foundation of Pop Art a few years later. The motivation for these mosaics were the result of discussions between the artist, his wife—the interior designer, Isabel Wilson Lichtenstein—and a couple who had hired her to transform their Cleveland, Ohio home.

Mr. and Mrs. Clair Whitmer commissioned Roy Lichtenstein to create a ‘coffee table’ in 1952, while the artist lived in Cleveland. Lichtenstein completed not one, but three mosaic tables, two side tables and a design for a larger low table in five years, as the patron and artist joked in their personal letters. Lichtenstein arrived in a station wagon to deliver the bold new creations that would come to dominate the rest of Lichtenstein’s career.

Along with Andy Warhol, Lichtenstein is considered one of the founders of Pop Art, and like Warhol, he mimicked the aesthetic of mass-market comics, magazines, and consumer goods. He was particularly interested in a systematic understanding of how visual communication developed in the age of mass communication. He began to form these ideas under the tutelage of Hoyt L. Sherman, his professor at Ohio State University in the 1940s. In Sherman’s influential book Drawing by Seeing, the professor advocated a new approach to conveying narrative, “Students must develop an ability to see familiar objects in terms of visual qualities,” he wrote, “and they must develop this ability to the degree that old associations with such objects will have only a secondary or a submerged role during the seeing-and-drawing act” (H. L. Sherman, quoted by B. Rose, The Drawings of Roy Lichtenstein, exh. cat., Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1987, p. 29).

Although known for his comic book inspired paintings, furniture would prove to be a theme that ran throughout Lichtenstein’s life. To support his early career as an artist, he took a job designing office furniture for the Republic Steel Corporation in Cleveland. One of the office desks he designed in 1957 includes a familiar weave pattern that he would later introduce into his art in the 1980s in works such as Plus and Minus I (1988, Private Collection). Tables would also feature prominently in his later Interior paintings, such as Interior with Mirrored Wall (1988, Solomon R. Guggenheim, New York) which includes a side-table in which the surface has been rendered by Lichtenstein in a series of red dots, not unlike two of the present works.

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