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MAGNIFICENT GESTURES: MASTERWORKS FROM THE DIAMONSTEIN-SPIELVOGEL COLLECTION FULL PROCEEDS TO BENEFIT A NOT-FOR-PROFIT CHARITABLE FOUNDATION

Roy Lichtenstein
'THE WHITE TREE' (STUDY)
JUMP TO LOT
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MAGNIFICENT GESTURES: MASTERWORKS FROM THE DIAMONSTEIN-SPIELVOGEL COLLECTION FULL PROCEEDS TO BENEFIT A NOT-FOR-PROFIT CHARITABLE FOUNDATION

Roy Lichtenstein
'THE WHITE TREE' (STUDY)
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Contemporary Art Evening Auction

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New York

Roy Lichtenstein
1923 - 1997
'THE WHITE TREE' (STUDY)
signed and dated 79 on the reverse
pencil and colored pencil on paper
image: 11 1/2 by 22 1/2 in. 29.2 by 57.2 cm.
sheet: 20 7/8 by 29 3/4 in. 53 by 75.6 cm.
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Provenance

Leo Castelli Gallery, New York (LC #D-365)
James Goodman Gallery, New York
Acquired by the present owner from the above

Exhibited

New York, James Goodman Gallery, Roy Lichtenstein: A Drawing Retrospective, April - May 1984, n.p., no. 47, illustrated in color
New York, The Museum of Modern Art, The Drawings of Roy Lichtenstein, March - June 1987, p. 147, no. 212, illustrated in color
Turin, GAM - Galleria Civica d'Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Roy Lichtenstein: Opera prima, September 2014 - January 2015, n.p., no. 164, illustrated in color

Literature

Exh. Cat., Paris, Gagosian Gallery, Lichtenstein Expressionism, 2013, p. 111, no. 7, illustrated in color

Catalogue Note

Executed in 1979, Roy Lichtenstein’s 'The White Tree' (Study) is an expertly-rendered large scale drawing that would serve as the starting point for the magnificent 1980 painting of the same title commissioned for the Gucci Collection. Both the drawing and painting are part of a larger body of work in which Lichenstein appropriated modern masters of the Twentieth Century, including Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso and, in this case, German Expressionist artists such as Franz Marc. 'The White Tree' (Study) recalls a German Expressionist style in its hatched lines, which, flatly applied and unmodulated in color draw attention to media reproductions. Like his signature Benday dots, Lichtenstein noted, “...the hash marks, the parallel lines and things that are in my new paintings are supposed to do the same thing. It’s supposed to look like a fake.” (Roy Lichtenstein quoted in Brenda Schmahmann, “A Brush with Expression: Roy Lichtenstein’s Interchanges with Modernism,” Exh. Cat., Paris, Gagosian Gallery, Roy Lichtenstein, 2013, p. 15). Of the numerous other drawings Lichtenstein produced as studies for subsequent paintings, 'The White Tree' (Study) is one of the largest. 'The White Tree' (Study) also bears an impressive provenance and exhibition history, having been included in shows at James Goodman Gallery in 1984 and The Museum of Modern Art in 1987.

'The White Tree' (Study) depicts a classical and pastoral scene of bathers idling in the landscape. In a composition that recalls Paul Cézanne’s The Bathers, figures and trees build up an environment around a central focal point, in this case, a small white tree. Mountains, trees, ground and sky are alternately represented either in dense, angular passages of unmodulated color or precisely drawn hatch marks. Lichtenstein’s emphasis on the illusionistic and artificial nature of this image is part of a larger discourse surrounding the authenticity, or expectation of authenticity in art. This drawing would become the source material for its descendent painting, which remains quite faithful to the present work. Although Lichtenstein slightly altered small passages, for example in not rendering the farthest right figure in all hatching, overall he adhered quite closely to the drawing. In an interview with the present owner, Lichtenstein emphasized the significance of drawing to his output: “Usually, I do these little colored pencil drawings. It would be very rare, and the subject matter would have to be extremely simple, if I didn’t start with a drawing. I think I not only start with a drawing, I draw all the way through the painting.” (Roy Lichtenstein quoted in Barbaralee Diamonstein, Inside the Art World: Conversations with Barbaralee Diamonstein, New York, 1994, p. 163)

Lichtenstein’s engagement with critical moments of the twentieth-century art historical canon was an exercise through which the artist was able to examine specific movements in his own unique style. The present work is a testament to Lichtenstein’s commitment to drawing as a medium and crucial part within his overall artistic practice.

Contemporary Art Evening Auction

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New York