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Auction: Contemporary Art Part II
was auctioned on: 13 May 2011
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Roy Lichtenstein

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Estimate: US$300,000 - US$500,000
Price realised:  n. a.
Lot number 168, Views: 59

Roy Lichtenstein New Born 1988 Patinated bronze. 12 1/4 x 16 1/4 x 3 1/2 in. (31.1 x 41.3 x 8.9 cm.) Inscribed "R.F. Lichtenstein '88" along the base. This work is from an edition of six.
Provenance Acquired directly from the artist; Private Collection Exhibited New York, Guild Hall, Roy Lichtenstein: Three Decades of Sculpture, August 15 - October 4, 1992 (another example exhibited); London, Gagosian Gallery, Roy Lichtenstein Sculpture, June 6 – August 6, 2005 and New York, Gagosian Gallery, September 16 – October 22, 2005 (another example exhibited) Literature H. Foster, S. Ratibor, and M. Francis, eds., Roy Lichtenstein Sculpture, London and New York, 2005, p. 85 (illustrated) Catalogue Essay Master of Pop Roy Lichtenstein, famous above all for transforming art into new-media abstractions, created master distillations of modernist masters, his own very art, and icons culled from everyday popular culture. The present lot, titled and modeled after Constantin Brancusi’s bronze modernist gem Le Nouveau-nŽ (the Newborn), 1920 (part of the Permanent Collection Museum of Modern Art, New York), is Lichtenstein’s recall and response to Brancusi’s graceful, deceptively effortless sculpture of abstraction and form. The reprisal is in itself an establishment of Lichtenstein’s purest medium: the art of representation in preconceived displays but with new, ironic, twists. Paintings synonymous with comic strips, brushstrokes, dot-matrix Benday compositions, primary colors and bold black lines, Lichtenstein was very much the Pop artist du jour in post-war America, carving out a wholly independent, yet astutely reflexive, arc from contemporaries Warhol, Johns and Rosenquist. There is no doubt in any viewer’s mind when gazing upon his art that it is in fact, a Lichtenstein. And his sculptures go one step further in expressing his principle motif: that recurring interest in the relationship of three dimensional form and two-dimensional space. They are in fact, the purest extension of his paintings and were a constant gravitational pull for him during his lengthy career. His sculptures are a visual paradox of semi-relief, semi trompe l’oeil mode of two-dimensionality. He loved how their mechanical production combined formal aesthetics with mass market reproduction. New Born goes full circle to Lichtenstein’s early interest in the primitive (what is more primal than a newborn?), to his usage of art history as a pop icon, pure form and elegant personal language. The purity of this piece is crucial in placing it within Lichtenstein’s ouevre. Its very lack of color signifies the purity of the work, and any omission of color is the artist’s way of expressing the core of the modern art form it shadows. New Born doesn’t lack color, it simply doesn’t need color. The work registers innocence, pure form, and its simplicity incites emotion. “Lichtenstein’s sculptures have focused on a range of themes over several decades, including art-historical styles, Art Deco design, and his own invented forms. With characteristic irony, Lichtenstein has been addressing issues of three-dimensional space via his sculptural versions of his twodimensional images, translating motifs from one realm into the other, motifs as varied as mirror reflections, steam rising from a coffee cup, light streaming from a lamp, a whiplash brushstroke, and an Expressionist head. By maintaining the flatness, altering the scale, and applying process color and Benday dots, he deliberately undermines his representation of the object and our perception of it, and continues the tradition of such twentiethcentury artists as Picasso and Johns in exploring new paths in sculpture” (D. Waldman, Roy Lichtenstein, New York, 1993, p. 335). Lichtenstein’s New Born, from 1988 is a reprise of one of modern art’s most iconic sculptures. Brancusi, the father of modern sculpture, diffused into his object a pristine, other-worldliness where space and volume are only punctuations to his form and elegance. The shape, at its abstracted core, is that of a newborn baby harkening to its womb-like state. Life-size and serene, it reflects the awe in not only humanity at this primal level, but also pr

Informations about the auction
Auction house: Phillips
Title: Contemporary Art Part II
Date of the auction: 13 May 2011
Address: Phillips
New York