Contemporary Art

A Late Lichtenstein Nude

By Sotheby's

Among the many exciting works that comprise the Contemporary Art Evening Sale on 18 May in New York is Roy Lichtenstein’s Nude Sunbathing, offered at auction for the first time. The work was painted in 1995 during a high point in Lichtenstein’s career and in the same year he won the Inamori Foundation’s Kyoto Prize and the National Medal of the Arts. 


The Pop artist concentrated on a variety of particular subjects throughout his career, but recurrently featured the nude in his later work of the 1990s. Nude Sunbathing revisits and reimagines the 1960s series focused on the female form, one of the artist’s signature subject matters.

Taking inspiration from two of his most significant art historical influences – Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse – Lichtenstein abstracts the female body to its very simplest form, defined primarily by his trademark graphic line and boldly colored Benday dots. What distinguishes his 1990s Nudes from his earlier works are the varied planes of gradated Benday dots within the composition, which model the figure with great depth and heightened dimensionality. 

Nude Sunbathing is unique among this vaulted series of Nudes in that it is dominated primarily by a single color: the blistering contours of red that shape both her figure and the background. The piece’s commanding use of the Benday dot technique, vibrant red tones, and a seductive female temptress make it the quintissential late Lichtenstein.


Rare to the market, Lichtenstein’s limited group of Late Nudes were the first series he undertook following his major 1993 career retrospective at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, and were the very last major paintings that occupied the final years before his death in 1997. 

Currently on view at Sotheby’s London through 12 April, Nude Sunbathing will make its way to New York where the Contemporary Art Evening exhibition will open on 5 May.


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