Lot 6
  • 6

Roy Lichtenstein

2,400,000 - 3,000,000 GBP
3,308,750 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Roy Lichtenstein
  • Two Paintings with Dado
  • signed and dated 83 on the reverse
  • oil and Magna on canvas


Leo Castelli Gallery, New York

Marvin Ross Friedman & Co. Miami

Ronald Feldman Fine Arts, Inc., New York

Hope and Howard Stringer, Nashville

Guggenheim, Asher Associates, New York

Richard Gray Gallery, New York

Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2007


New York, Leo Castelli Gallery, Lichtenstein, December 1983 - January 1984, n.p., illustrated in colour

Venice, Biennale di Venezia XLI, Art in the Mirror, June - July 1984

New York, Whitney Museum of American Art; San Francisco, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; and Minneapolis, Walker Art Center, Picasso and American Art, September 2006 - September 2007, p. 272, no. 139, illustrated in colour

Paris, Grand Palais Galeries Nationales, Picasso: Mania, October 2015 - February 2016, p. 168, no. 149, illustrated in colour


Lawrence Alloway, Modern Masters: Roy Lichtenstein, London 1983, p. 102, no. 105, illustrated in colour

Exh. Cat., London, Tate Modern (and travelling), Roy Lichtenstein: A Retrospective, May 2012 - November 2013, p. 41 (text)

Catalogue Note

From the very outset, Roy Lichtenstein dedicated his career to making art about art. Accompanying his formative transformations of mass-produced comic book scenes into high-art paintings, Lichtenstein exhibited a number of art historical icons rendered in the same hard-edged graphic style in his 1962 critical debut at the Leo Castelli Gallery. Indeed, this art historical branch of his oeuvre constitutes a practice that he continued to pursue for the rest of his career. Of all the modernist canons depicted however – from Claude Monet, Piet Mondrian, and Morris Louis through the movements of Cubism, Surrealism, German Expressionism and Purism – it was Picasso that proved the most vital for Lichtenstein. So much so that in April 1997, in his last published interview, the Pop pioneer admitted “I don’t think that I’m over his influence” (Roy Lichtenstein quoted in: Ira Candela, ‘Picasso in Two Acts’, in: Exh. Cat., London, Tate Modern (and travelling), Roy Lichtenstein: A Retrospective, 2012-13,  p. 44).  Belonging to this longstanding concern, first heralded in 1962 by Femme au Chapeau (Lichtenstein’s first painting after Picasso), Two Paintings with Dado from 1983 announces the continuation of a twenty-year dialogue. The present work however does more than offer respectful reverence for, and an irreverent parody of, Picasso. Akin to Warhol, who at the time was also revisiting his 1960s hay-day, Lichtenstein began appropriating and remixing his own back catalogue during the 1980s. Set within an interior, Lichtenstein re-appropriates his own 1963 version of Picasso’s Woman with a Flowered Hat (1939-40); brutally cropped this painting appears framed and sits below a dado rail, above which hangs a another framed painting – a geometric abstraction that looks like a Jasper Johns flagstone work. In Two Paintings with Dado Lichtenstein’s assimilation of iconic art historical tropes – including his own 1960s canon – imparts a complicated strata of appropriation: not only is he copying Picasso, he is copying himself copying Picasso and placing it next to another copy of a Johns in an imagined studio interior or exhibition space. Juxtaposing art historical icons and unifying them via the author’s own borrowed comic book aesthetic, Two Paintings with Dado at once reaffirms and furthers Lichtenstein’s position at the very forefront of appropriation art.

Lichtenstein’s inaugural painting after Picasso came very early in his career and was included in the artist’s breakthrough exhibition at the Leo Castelli Gallery in February-March of 1962. This exhibition caused a substantial degree of ambivalence from critics owing to Lichtenstein’s ‘copyist’ methods, particularly his apparent attempt at supplanting the master of modern painting. However as curator Ira Candela has explained, these early critics failed to register Lichtenstein’s announcement of the death of the author: “As Roland Barthes and Michel Foucault would soon argue, there is no such thing as an original text, for every work is a complex combination of previous ideas, a polysemic discourse without a single author… one could argue that Lichtenstein’s Picassos force the viewer to abandon outdated questions like Who paints? and With what originality?” (Ira Candela, ibid., 40). Lichtenstein’s artistic endeavour was far from new. It was Picasso’s own borrowing – such as his recapitulation of Eugène Delacroix’s Women of Algers in Their Apartment (1834) for his own Femme d’Alger (1955) – that first impelled Lichtenstein to so the same. Picasso was often explicit in his irreverence and parody of Old Master paragons; his late work in particular is known for its cannibalistic consumption of masters such as Velazquez, Rembrandt, and El Greco. Taking on the age-old mantle of influence and deviation as Picasso had done before him, the Pop art pioneer affirmed the primacy of artistic discourse in opposition to the singular originality of a lone author from the very outset.

When considering Lichtenstein’s method, it is clear that his works after Picasso are just as much about their means of production as they are about the modernist painter. Indeed, a further deviation that separates Lichtenstein’s work from Picasso is his borrowing from cheap mechanical reproductions with distorted colour values. In works such as Still Life after Picasso (1964) Lichtenstein replicated a mechanical simulacrum of a Picasso rather than its original source, and in doing so, foregrounds the attendant fetishism and mystification endemic within commercial replications of venerated artworks. Furthermore, Lichtenstein’s masterful yet most deceptive transgression remains his faking of the industrial. Though his appropriative riff on Picasso takes on the production values of the mechanically produced – the half-tone dots and flat primary colours – they are painstakingly worked over by hand.

Into the 1970s Lichtenstein continued to engage Picasso; however, the works created in this decade exhibit a different manner that moved away from a working ‘after’ and more towards a working ‘with’ (Ibid.). In paintings such as Still Life with Picasso (1973) Lichtenstein blends his own compositional elements with those borrowed from Picasso’s oeuvre to playfully embark upon a free form dialogue with the revered Spanish master. Furthermore, the series of Artist’s Studios created between 1973-74 imparted another layer of complexity to this genre of metapainting. Taking on the tradition of genre painting, Lichtenstein began referring to his own back catalogue and melding it with other famous painterly icons. For example the early masterpiece Look Mickey (1961) appears above a sofa in furnished domestic interior in Artist’s Studio “Look Mickey” from 1973, while Matisse’s The Dance forms the backdrop of a still life scene of paintbrushes and lemons in Artist’s Studio “The Dance” of 1974. With the onset of the 1980s this dialogue entered yet another phase. As exemplified by the present work, during this decade Lichtenstein began painting closely cropped imaginary spaces in which artworks intermingle and coexist side by side. In Two Paintings with Dado, the top section of Lichtenstein’s 1963 work after Picasso, Woman with Flowered Hat, appears below a Johns flagstone painting. That both paintings are framed and positioned below and above a dado rail suggests that they form part of an imagined installation. In the present work, and many from this reflective moment in Lichtenstein’s oeuvre, the pioneering Pop artist has not simply painted any old exhibition view – he has painted his very own retrospective.