This work will be included in the forthcoming catalogue raisonné being prepared by the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation.
In late 1964, soon after developing his signature Pop style, Lichtenstein embarked upon his first mature sculptures that included ceramic heads of women and coffee cups and saucers. The following year, he continued the series and created Teapot. The impetus came from his desire to explore the vocabulary of cartooning employed in his paintings and to put two-dimensional symbols on three-dimensional objects.
Rendering his objects in three dimensions, Lichtenstein used symbols usually reserved for cartooning, or in his case, painting, to embellish them. This layering gives them a paradoxical appearance. With these markings, they become hyper-realities. Constance Glenn writes, "with regard to Roy Lichtenstein's methodology, the 1965 Ceramic Sculpture resides at the juncture where symbol becomes motif. For the first time, the scale of the familiar Benday dot is such that -in relation to the painted form or object- it no longer simply defines areas and creates value or color contrasts. In arabesque patterns on shiny ceramic surfaces it becomes a compositional motif in its own right, either camouflaging or enhancing physical contours and creating rhythms which describe an alternate reality to that of its seemingly mundane underpinnings" (C. Glenn, Roy Lichtenstein: Ceramic Sculpture, exh. cat., The Art Galleries, California State University, Long Beach, 1977, p. 5).
The fabrication process proved to be extremely labor intensive, and new methods and materials were invented more than once. To achieve Lichtenstein's signature bright colors and perfect application of dots and shapes, often the pieces were fired five or six times at different temperatures. As a result of this labor-intensive process, only twenty-six sculptures are known to have been completed, all exquisite and breathtaking examples of what has been come to be known as "the first sculpture about painting" (Ibid, p. 11).
Lichtenstein completed the project at the end of 1965, yet the images continued to appear in his work for years to come. The crockery forms, including Tea Pot, were integrated within the Cubist Still Life paintings, such as Still Life with Blue Pitcher, 1972.