This work will be included in the forthcoming catalogue raisonné being prepared by the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation.
"Cézanne is painting apples and pears, but the colors aren't truly realistic and he is doing pretty much anything he wants with them. He's thinking in terms of areas of color, about their position, not about trying to get the table and fruit just right. After Impressionism, Cézanne, van Gogh and Gauguin are really the beginning of color-of color position and intensity-on its own. Cézanne stripped his art of decoration and pattern. He was about pure vision. Gauguin had a vision, too, and his colors must have looked outrageous at the time. They're tough, strong. At the same time his work was meant to be beautiful" (R. Lichtenstein, quoted in M. Kimmelman, "PORTRAITS, Talking with Artists at the Met, The Modern, The Louvre and Elsewhere," New York Times, 31 March 1995).
In Still Life with Casserole from 1972, Lichtenstein explores the boundaries of his working process. In four small rectangles scattered over the page, Lichtenstein reworks the image sourced from Picasso's 1945 Pichet, bougeoire et casserole émallée in stages, carefully erasing and contracting visual complexities in form and texture to a graphic rendition of diagonal lines and flat areas of color. In this work, we see the artist's hand in its truest form and through these thumbnail sketches, the beginnings of an arduous painting process. In addition to his attention to compositional elements, this drawing reveals his exploration of color and building the relationships between areas of pure, intense color that characterize his oeuvre first in the drawing stage of his working method. Though this study was never fully realized in a painted image, the Still life with Candle, 1972 demonstrates his ability to remove shading and gradation entirely from the image and convey the composition through color and line alone- abstracting the subject of his pictures to their simplest geometric forms.
Throughout the 1960s, Roy Lichtenstein's interest in still life painting was mainly centered upon single objects floating in a background of Benday dots. Reducing the content allowed him to expound upon his meticulous technique. Working from found images sourced from modernist painting and popular culture--including advertisements and comic strips--Lichtenstein was able to hone in on aspects of a composition that interested him and reduce his imagery to the bare essentials of line and limited color. An exception is his still life of 1964, which directly cites Pablo Picasso's cubist paintings of the 1910s, though reduced to flat planes of color and pristine black outlines. His still lifes of 1972-1974 represent a departure from his restrained and predominantly monochromatic still lifes of the 1960s. His emphasis on a bold, saturated color palette is applied to these works as he had with his comic strip paintings of the previous decade.