“…the prints are very different (from the paintings). Printmaking provides for Lichtenstein an arena in which he is far more apt to play around, try something new, experiment with materials. In addition, the prints, in the nature of reproduction, of multiple originals, of layered process as well as layered meaning are added to the mix. With each new series the associations are compounded. The next…is eagerly awaited” (R. Fine on Roy Lichtenstein, in M. Corlett, The Prints of Roy Lichtenstein: A Catalogue Raisonne 1948-1993, New York, 1994, p. 43).
Genre-defining American artist Roy Lichtenstein became a leading figure in the 1960s Pop art movement alongside peers such as Andy Warhol, Claes Oldenburg, Jasper Johns, and James Rosenquist. His boldly colorful, graphic work is widely inspired by a prodigious range of sources—from modern masters such as Pablo Picasso, Joan Miró, Constantin Brâncusi, Alexander Calder and Paul Klee, to mass-circulation newspapers and billboard advertisements, comic books, and the core genres of traditional art history: still life, landscape, portraits, and interiors. Rather than faithfully creating lifelike scenes and objects, Lichtenstein sought to convey their codified essence—making the hand-made appear machine-made, while infusing the idea of the polished, media-projected image with a heady dose of his own humor. Lichtenstein was an accomplished draftsman, exploding to fame in the early 1960s with his oil and magna canvases. By the 1970s, he had begun working in printmaking and sculpture, creating vibrant and fascinating work of increasing technical complexity that allowed him to further explore his obsessive interest in serial imagery. Executed in 1990, Lichtenstein’s Suspended Mobile is an engaging, illusionistic sculptural work belonging to a small series of prints exploring a favored theme, the interior.
Standing over four-feet tall, Suspended Mobile is one of the Lichtenstein’s playful and clever innovations. It depicts a boldly graphic hanging mobile rendered in textured magna and silicon on clear, seeming weightless synthetic monofilament fabric stretched taut over concave board. Suspended Mobile references Alexander Calder’s kinetic mobiles directly, works whose inherent magic lies in their spontaneous movement. Lichtenstein’s frozen mobile condenses volume and function into a new, meditative permanence. Its basic compositional structure is that of a painting, with an image rendered on a flat support, yet Suspended Mobile--- depending on the viewer’s angle—seemingly both leaps into space, and roots itself to the picture plane. A charming and engaging object-as-painting, curator Ruth Fine refers to Suspended Mobile as the “ultimate it’s-not-what-it-looks-like-but-what-it is” (M. Corlett, The Prints of Roy Lichtenstein: A Catalogue Raisonne 1948-1993, New York, 1994, p. 41). Lichtenstein animates Suspended Mobile with the same pictorial conventions as his best paintings: bold black outlines, bright, non-naturalistic colors and raking diagonals, invoking and imbuing Calder’s signature work with his own singular visual language.