Executed in 1988, this work will be included in the forthcoming catalogue raisonné being prepared by the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation.
Throughout his prolific painting career, Roy Lichtenstein experimented with sculpture as he worked to develop his unique artistic vision. While he is still known primarily for his magnificent, large-scale canvases and works on paper, his sculptural output possesses its own character and visually witty possibilities. Drawing from similar popular imagery and cultural references, Lichtenstein's sculpture both fits thematically into the artist's larger oeuvre while simultaneously existing as a separate entity.
Working with one of his most iconic themes, the female face, Lichtenstein's Profile Head V from 1988 is a construction of material and space, where the negative space between sculptural elements becomes equally critical to the understanding of the sculpture as the physical material itself. Toeing the line between two and three dimensionality, this sculpture recalls his graphic stylized aesthetic that we see in his painting, especially in his use of thick black outline that creates the silhouette of a woman's face and creates the wavy tresses of her blonde hair. Without any other discernible features, the woman becomes a vessel in which the viewer can construct his or her own meaning. Just as Lichtenstein typically chooses to capture the moment just before or just after the decisive moment from a comic book or other kind of dramatic narrative, Profile Head V catches the woman in a moment where we can imagine her tilting her head up to an unseen romantic partner, waiting to be kissed.
Often compared to pop-up books, Lichtenstein's sculpture plays with the concept of art as a window to the world, and emphasizes the materiality and non-reality of his pieces even as they possess multiple planes of space. While his paintings are meant to capitalize on the artifice of popular media such as television, advertising, and comic books, Lichtenstein's sculpture brings part of this contrived reality into our physical space, existing as objects in our true reality. Just as with Lichtenstein's pieces in other mediums, it is important to him that his hand remain hidden, which causes Profile Head V to even further resemble a commercial object, or create the feeling that the female protagonist in a comic popped right out from the pages of her book.
Looking back on the legacy of Lichtenstein's 1974 Modern Head and other monumental sculpture, this intimate Profile Head V demonstrates the artist's continued interest in the woman and female beauty as they are represented in popular culture. The exquisitely rendered minimal line and form of the sculpture seamlessly fuses together object with its environment, perfectly accentuating the outline of the woman's face.