Fantastically illustrated here in progress in Lichtenstein’s studio, Drawing for ‘Interior with Swimming Pool Painting’
from 1993 reveals the highly technical, rigorously critical process by which Lichtenstein produced his iconic Pop-art masterpieces. With each precious stroke of colored pencil and graphite line, Drawing for ‘Interior with Swimming Pool Painting’
revels in the gestural intimacy of the artist’s hand, the presence of which Lichtenstein painstakingly conceals in the final iteration of the fully realized oil on canvas version of Interior with Swimming Pool Painting
. Updating one of his most iconic figurative motifs, the seductive and beguiling blonde woman depicted here has departed significantly from her narrative of conventional 1960s bombshell heroine and reemerges in the imaginative Surrealist realm of fractured figuration and enigmatic context. Although reveling in the elasticity of meaning and dislocation of form afforded by the dual influences of Surrealism and Cubism, Lichtenstein nevertheless maintains order and control through his strong sense of line, pattern, and design. By weaving allusions to Surrealism and Cubism through the radical fracturing of female portraiture and flattening of three-dimensional space, Lichtenstein creates an enigmatically multifaceted composition that defies clear categorization. Reflecting back on his own artistic career, Lichtenstein also draws on the forms and figures from his extensive oeuvre in the present work, subjecting his own iconic paintings of the 1960s and 1970s to the same acerbic wit and artistic license that has always characterized his distinctive practice.
A drawing of both the blonde female seductress and the interior space behind her, Drawing for ‘Interior with Swimming Pool Painting’ celebrates Lichtenstein’s two most important motifs – the female portrait and the depiction of interior spaces – in a single, irresistibly enigmatic composition. In her many guises, from comic book temptress to disembodied head to featureless profile, the seductive, nameless female muse is the central protagonist of Lichtenstein’s oeuvre. The crying surrealist blonde exhibited here is borrowed from an earlier work, Lichtenstein’s seminal 1977 painting, Girl with Tear III, which today resides in the collection of the Foundation Beyeler. Itself a study for a different artwork, Drawing for ‘Interior with Swimming Pool Painting’ is the ultimate testament to Lichtenstein’s own wry comment: “All my art is, in some way, about other art.” (Roy Lichtenstein quoted in Janis Hendrickson, Roy Lichtenstein, Cologne, 2000, frontispiece)