Looking Like a Lichtenstein

For Roy Lichtenstein, who was both an artist and an educator, one of his goals was to pass along history and culture from generation to generation.

His art swept through popular culture during the 1960s and is still relevant, more than fifty years later.

One of the most popular costumes for millennials, who were just children when Lichtenstein died in 1997, is a Lichtenstein look. There are tutorials, for both men and women, on how to become a Lichtenstein ben-day dot character. The pathos of the crying woman and the aloofness of the Lichtenstein man still speaks to us today.

“Well, my purpose, whether I succeed or not of course, I suppose will be up to history,” Lichtenstein said “but my purpose is entirely aesthetic, and relationships and unity are the thing I’m really after.”

Lichtenstein and History

Two of the most extraordinary TIME magazine covers in history were done by Lichtenstein in 1968. He was commissioned to do one cover for a story about Robert F. Kennedy, who was on the campaign trail as the Democratic Party nominee for president, and a second cover for a story about guns in America.

The TIME magazine story about Bobby Kennedy, and his bid for the White House, was published on May 24, 1968. Kennedy was shot just eight days later. “I also did a gun cover—the issue about gun control.” Lichtenstein said. “In fact, I made them both at the same time, and then Kennedy was shot. Which was pretty shocking. I had done the gun before he was shot and they published it afterward.”

The June 21st edition of TIME, with Lichtenstein’s chilling cover image of a smoking gun, pointed at the viewer, read, in part, “All too widely, the country is regarded as a blood-drenched, continent-wide shooting range where toddlers blast off with real rifles, housewives pack pearl-handled revolvers…”

Still Provocative and Evocative

Lichtenstein’s work still resonates with us because of his ability to capture emotions and experiences that we can all relate to. He elevated common objects and themes to the level of fine art.

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then Lichtenstein would have been very flattered to see all the YouTube tutorials on how to look like a Lichtenstein. Actually, he would have been very surprised to see YouTube at all, which didn’t exist during his lifetime. It’s to his credit that he has left a body of work that is still relatable, thought provoking…and imitated.

See Roy Lichtenstein Artwork for Sale

Roy Lichtenstein, Nurse, 1964

Lichtenstein Rocks (With or Without Thought Bubbles)

Even without a “speech” or “thought bubble” (which usually drives up the price of a Lichtenstein), Nurse was sold for a record $95.4 million at the Christie’s auction on November 9th.

Here are some of the news reports from around the world that exemplify the excitement that the sale generated:

From The Wall Street Journal:
Christie’s also reset the record for Roy Lichtenstein by selling his comic-style Pop painting of a “Nurse” to a lone telephone bidder for $95.4 million, over its $80 million estimate. The 1964 work, which shows a nurse in a white cap covered in tiny red Ben-Day dots, surpassed the artist’s previous auction high of $56.1 million, set two years ago by a 1963 work, “Woman with Flowered Hat.”

From Il Figaro, Paris:
EXCLUSIVITÉ – Profitant de la Frieze Art Fair à Londres, Christie’s a annoncé la vente le 9 novembre prochain de la toile mythique du pop art américain. Elle pourrait franchir les 100 millions de dollars
[Translation: EXCLUSIVE – Taking advantage of the Frieze Art Fair in London, Christie’s announced the sale on November 9 of the legendary American pop art canvas. It could cross the $ 100 million mark.]

From The New York Times:
An arresting pop art work by Roy Lichtenstein, “Nurse,” from 1964, also defied expectations, selling for $95.4 million, with fees, to another phone buyer, well above its $80 million estimate — despite the lack of a “speech” or “thought bubble” that typically drives up the price of Lichtenstein works. “Nurse” reached a new price level for Lichtenstein at auction.

From the Swiss News Service:
La toile de Roy Lichtenstein “Nurse” (l’infirmière) a elle été adjugée, en quelques minutes, 95,3 millions de dollars. Elle était estimée à 80 millions par Christie’s. C’est presque le double du précédent record pour un Lichtenstein aux enchères, établi en 2013 à 56,12 millions.
[Translation: The canvas by Roy Lichtenstein “Nurse” (nurse) has been awarded, in minutes, $ 95.3 million. It was estimated at 80 million by Christie’s. This is almost double the previous record for a Lichtenstein auction, established in 2013 to 56,120,000.]

From Rebubblica, Italy
Serata di record a New York per Chistie’s che dopo aver venduto per 170,4 milioni di dollari un dipinto di Augusto Modigliani, “Nu couché”, ha battuto ogni precedente record anche per Roy Lichtenstein, re della pop-art. La sua opera “The nurse” dai caratteristici tratti a “fumetto” che ritrae un infermiera è stata venduta a 95,365 milioni di dollari.
[Translation: Evening of records in New York for Christie’s which sold for 170.4 million dollars a painting by Augusto Modigliani, “Nu couche”, broke all previous records for Roy Lichtenstein, king of pop art. His work “The nurse” with characteristic “comic” traits that portrays a nurse was sold for 95,365,000 dollars.]

As long-time collectors of Lichtenstein, we here, at Vertu, were thrilled by the results of the auction and the high value placed on Lichtenstein’s work. The pieces we have in our gallery are consummate Lichtenstein, with historical significance.

Against Apartheid is one of more than a dozen works that were done, by a group of internationally known artists, for an exhibit in Paris commemorating the observance of International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. Other artists included in the exhibit were Robert Rauschenberg, Antonio Tapies, Wilfredo Lam and Julio La Parc. Against Apartheid was also included in a pamphlet produced in cooperation with the United Nations Special Committee Against Apartheid.

A born and bred New Yorker, active in the city’s art scene, Lichtenstein served on the board of trustees of the B.A.M. Imperfect Print for B.A.M. is a woodcut and screen print, Lichtenstein created to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the Brooklyn Academy of Music (B.A.M.) and Modern Art Poster is an image to the city.

Modern Head Relief is one of the most unique Lichtenstein pieces in our gallery. It incorporates all of Lichtenstein’s signature images, including ben-day dots, done in brass.

Visit us at Vertu or contact us for more information about the works of Roy Lichtenstein for sale in our gallery.

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