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Lichtenstein of the Week

During the same fertile period that Roy Lichtenstein created his famous Brushstrokes and Explosions series, he designed a poster for New York City’s Lincoln Center, taking as his inspiration architecture and design of the 1920s and 1930s. Thus began a series of paintings and sculpture between 1966 and 1971 that parodied the style of Art Deco, or “Cubism for the Home,” as Lichtenstein ironically put it.

The funky Modern Sculpture pieces featured here were produced between 1967 and 1968 and recreate the Art Deco motifs found in concert halls and movie theaters of the 1930s. As the wall text puts it, Lichtenstein “humorously stylized an already-stylized style,” using the same brass and ornamentation that typify classic Art Deco.

In all of his sculptural work—from his black-and-white ceramics of the mid-1960s to the female busts and public art pieces of the 1990s—Lichtenstein plays with perspective by adding two-dimensional elements to three-dimensional surfaces. The Modern Sculpture works are almost flat, built it seems to be viewed from one perspective. The most extreme example of Lichtenstein’s approach to three-dimensional objects would be his Ben-Day dotted female busts, where he covers the faces of his trademark blondes with dots that look almost like measles.

Most of Lichtenstein's Modern Sculpture works have not been on view for years. See them at Roy Lichtenstein: A Retrospective before the exhibition closes September 3.

Roy Lichtenstein. Modern Sculpture with Glass Wave, 1967. © Estate of Roy Lichtenstein. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Richard L. Selle.

Roy Lichtenstein. Modern Sculpture with Velvet Rope, 1968. © Estate of Roy Lichtenstein. Private Collection.