Roy Lichtenstein (1923-1997)
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Roy Lichtenstein (1923-1997)

Collage for Modern Painting with Classic Head

Roy Lichtenstein (1923-1997)
Collage for Modern Painting with Classic Head
signed 'rf Lichteinstein' (lower right)
painted paper collage, marker and ink on board
21 x 26 7/8in. (53 x 66cm.)
Executed in 1967
Charles E. Slatkin Galleries, New York.
Leo Castelli Gallery, New York.
James Goodman Gallery, New York.
Galerie Beyeler, Basel.
Acquired from the above by the present owner.
New York, The School of Visual Arts, Visual Arts Museum, Roy Lichtenstein: Collages, October 1976.
Valencia, California Institute of Arts, Roy Lichtenstein CalArts: Drawings and Collages from the Artist's Collection, April-May 1977. Basel, Galerie Beyeler, Roy Lichtenstein, Frank Stella, March-May 1991, no. 1.
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Lot Essay

With its swirling montage of Art Deco motifs and its bright Pop colours, Modern Tapissery Cartoon (or Collage for Modern Painting with Classic Head) represents Roy Lichtenstein's celebratory tribute to the modern age. Executed in 1967, this collage of painted paper, ink and marker-pen was created at the height of Lichtenstein's Modern Painting series in which he focussed on the futuristic imagery and hard-edged, decorative styling of the interwar years.

The collage process allows flexibility and Lichtenstein's working method is laid before us here on the picture plane. It is even annotated with notes on scale and colour samples that indicate his desire to use the sharp primary hues for which he is best known. In an interview shortly before his death in 1997, the artist explained how he used the mix-and-match process of collage in determining a composition: 'I start with a sketch in mind and try to do something like that. But as it develops I can see that it could use something more daring in the colour over here, or this could be pushed a little bit up there, and maybe the sizes of the areas aren't right. So, I can easily make changes. I like to be able to manipulate all of this, but I like it to look as though it was never changed, that that's just the way it was, that you guessed right the first time' (Lichtenstein quoted in Some Kind of Reality: Roy Lichtenstein Interviewed by David Sylvester, London 1997, p. 37).

Lichtenstein would go on to execute Modern Painting with Classic Head in the same year, employing similar motifs to those seen in Modern Tapestry Cartoon (or Collage for Modern Painting with Classic Head). The present work reflects Lichtenstein's interest in modernist ideologies, and in this case, the imagery that defined material and visual culture during the 1920s and 1930s. Yet it does not draw on the high-minded idealism of classic modernism, but rather the decorative and commercial corruption of its style by architects and industrial manufacturers. More Radio City Music Hall than Fernand Léger, Modern Tapestry Cartoon (or Collage for Modern Painting with Classic Head) brings together various easily identifiable emblems of Art Deco design in its fractured composition. Its tightly interlocking forms speak of utopian visions and American idealism, of progress and prosperity. Radiating out from the Modigliani-esque figurehead are sunbursts, ocean liner smokestacks, a propeller plane and ionic column -- all evoking a golden era where people 'felt more modern than we feel now' (Lichtenstein quoted in L. Alloway Lichtenstein, New York 1983, p. 40).

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