signed and dated '86 on the reverse
Roy Lichtenstein is acknowledged by many critical accounts as the master of graphic clarity and as an innovator of image appropriation. Though known primarily as a pop artist, Roy Lichtenstein importantly began his career more aligned with the abstract expressionists. His ability to craft pop art masterpieces redefined the boundaries between High and Low through an ironical interplay of popular culture and fine art as evidenced by Face (Red), executed in 1986. Lichtenstein's innate gift for editing so as to capture the telling gesture of an emotive moment is retained, however, here, he demonstrates, though abstractly, his sensitivity to use of foreground and background in achieving a fraught, emotional impact and powerful visual image.
The present work seems almost to synthesize Lichtenstein's past impulses. With typical muscularity, he blocks off his canvas with broad, black brushstrokes. Curved swathes of yellow – reminiscent of the Warhol banana that illustrated so famously The Velvet Underground & Nico album – anchors the upper right portion of the composition. Ben-Day dots are employed more as a decorative pattern here than in the comic book series, while frenetic swatches of primary color call to mind both his abstract expressionist past, as well as the Cubist masterpieces that inspired the formal art historical appropriation he engaged in during previous decades. Here, Lichtenstein's shrewd gift for perceiving the precise gesture and the most effective use of cropping is unmistakable.
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