I really enjoy the Works on Paper section of the Lichtenstein retrospective because it helps me appreciate the origin and process of the paintings and sculptures throughout the rest of the exhibition. The studies and sketches provide a unique peek at the creative ideas-in-progress coming to form. In the case of Drawing for Entablature (above), graphite, colored pencils and paper-on-paper collage map out the composition for the much larger scale paintings on canvas.
Works on paper were an important part of Lichtenstein’s creative process. The artist almost always began by working out a study sketch to establish colors and compositional elements. He would then trace the drawing onto canvas with the aid of an opaque projector, continuing to make compositional adjustments.
Some of the drawings in the Works on Paper section have detailed notes and instructions for size, layout, and color combinations of dot patterns in the final painting—a paint-by-number-like guide. These studies help me more personally identify with where Lichtenstein was coming from and what he was trying to achieve.
You can compare Drawing for Entablature and its resulting painting, which had quite a few changes, by using the interactive slider on the exhibition’s Web site.