Estimate: US$400,000 - US$600,000
Price realised: US$394,000
Roy Lichtenstein Ceramic Sculpture #7 signed and dated "rf Lichtenstein 1965" on the underside painted and glazed ceramic 9 1/2 x 7 x 7 in. (24.1 x 17.8 x 17.8 cm.) Executed in 1965, this work is unique.
Provenance Leo Castelli Gallery, New York Mr. and Mrs. Burton Tremaine, Meridian, Connecticut Their sale, Christie's, New York, November 9, 1988, lot 10 Private Collection (acquired at the above sale) Christie's, New York, November 15, 2006, lot 33 Private Collection, New York Acquired from the above by the present owner Exhibited New York, Leo Castelli Gallery, Roy Lichtenstein: Brushstrokes and Ceramics, November 20 – December 11, 1965 New York, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Roy Lichtenstein, September 19 - November 16, 1969, no. 103 Long Beach, California State University Art Galleries, Roy Lichtenstein: Ceramic Sculpture, February 22 - March 20, 1977, no. 13 Hartford, The Wadsworth Atheneum, The Tremaine Collection: 20th Century Masters, The Spirit of Modernism, February 26 - April 29, 1984, p. 100 (illustrated) Art Institute of Chicago; Washington, D.C., National Gallery of Art; London, Tate Modern; Paris, Centre Georges Pompidou, Roy Lichtenstein: A Retrospective, May 16, 2012 - November 4, 2013, no. 27 (Chicago and London) and no. 90 (Paris) (illustrated) Literature John Coplans, Roy Lichtenstein, New York, 1972, no. 51, p. 122 (illustrated) Constance W. Glenn, Roy Lichtenstein: Ceramic Sculptures, 1977, pl. 13, p. 16 (installation view illustrated) Peter Aspden, "Beneath the Surface", Financial Times, January 26 - 27, 2013, p. 17 (illustrated) Catalogue Essay “It becomes a very exaggerated, a very compelling symbol that has almost nothing to do with the original” -Roy Lichtenstein on the coffee cup In a glossy black and white finish, Roy Lichtenstein’s coffee cups and saucers are a paradigm of the artist’s characteristic pop iconography of the 1960s, which feels ever more relevant in contemporary culture. Composed of the artist’s quintessential Benday dots, the coffee cups are stacked atop each other in a teetering tower, as if left on the counter in haste. First exhibited alongside the artist’s large-scale brushstroke paintings and other ceramic sculptures at Leo Castelli Gallery in his 1965 solo show, Ceramic Sculpture #7 stands out as a reminder of the pop artist’s interest, and in turn influence on, artistic re-appropriations of the most mundane objects from our everyday lives. Known for his mastery of two and three-dimensional practices, Lichtenstein first began experimenting with sculpture in the 1940s and 50s, originally with more natural materials such as wood and terracotta. His style further developed in the 1960s when he started producing glazed ceramics, a surface which better allowed him to paint the graphic imagery for which he is most well-known. The repetitive nature of the dots and lines in the present lot attempt to reduce the three-dimensional objects to two-dimensional form, breaking down the sculpture into its pure graphic elements. These designs in black and white, however, distinguish this work amongst his other ceramic sculptures produced at this time, lacking the blue and red that the others feature. It is this quality that makes the monochromatic Ceramic Sculpture #7 a stronger indication of Lichtenstein’s inspiration that directly recalls the artist’s interest in newspaper advertisements, with the tower of mugs reminding the viewer of a black and white ad from the Sunday paper. In this way, Lichtenstein connects with the American consumer on an even more direct level, overtly challenging this notion of pop art—the mundane can be celebrated in the simplest of forms, and further, can be elevated to the highest form of art. In its painterly qualities, Lichtenstein’s Ceramic Sculpture #7 reminds coffee drinkers that these cups intentionally lack functionality. “I don’t care what, say, a cup of coffee looks like,” Lichtenstein stated. “I only care about how it’s drawn.” (Roy Lichtenstein quoted in Jack Cowart, ed., Roy Lichtenstein: Beginning to End, exh. cat., Fundación Juan March, Madrid, 2007, pp. 118-19) Thus, in typical pop art fashion, the artist plays with a recognizable symbol and in turn
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