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PROPERTY FROM THE COLLECTION OF ROBERT AND JANE ROSENBLUM

Roy Lichtenstein
LIKE NEW
Estimate
6,000,0008,000,000
LOT SOLD. 5,944,000 USD
JUMP TO LOT
16

PROPERTY FROM THE COLLECTION OF ROBERT AND JANE ROSENBLUM

Roy Lichtenstein
LIKE NEW
Estimate
6,000,0008,000,000
LOT SOLD. 5,944,000 USD
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Contemporary Art Evening Auction

|
New York

Roy Lichtenstein
1923 - 1997
LIKE NEW
signed and dated '62 on the reverse of the left panel
oil on canvas, in two parts, in artist's frame
overall: 36 7/8 by 57 1/2 in. 93.7 by 146.1 cm.
Read Condition Report Read Condition Report

Provenance

Galerie Ileana Sonnabend, Paris
Acquired by the present owner from the above by 1963

Exhibited

Pasadena, Pasadena Art Museum; and Minneapolis, The Walker Art Center, Roy Lichtenstein, April - July 1967, p. 35, no. 7, illustrated
New York, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum; Kansas City, William Rockhill Nelson Gallery of Art and Mary Atkins Museum of Fine Arts; Chicago, Museum of Contemporary Art; Seattle, Seattle Art Museum; and Columbus, Columbus Gallery of Fine Arts, Roy Lichtenstein, September 1969 - August 1970, pp. 30-31, no. 10, illustrated
New York, The Museum of Modern Art; Amsterdam, Museum Overholland; Tel Aviv, Tel Aviv Museum; Dublin, Douglas Hyde Gallery, Trinity College; Frankfurt, Schirn Kunsthalle; Oxford, Museum of Modern Art; and Washington, D.C., Corcoran Gallery of Art, The Drawings of Roy Lichtenstein, March 1987 - November 1988, no. 317 (text) 
Paris, Centre Georges Pompidou; Tokyo, Sezou Museum; and Kobe, Hyogo Prefecture Museum, Art et Publicite, October 1990 - December 1991, pp. 434-435, illustrated
Los Angeles, The Museum of Contemporary Art; Chicago, The Museum of Contemporary Art; and New York, Whitney Museum of American Art, Hand Painted Pop: American Art In Transition: 1955-62, December 1992 - October 1993, p. 47, illustrated
New York, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum; Los Angeles, The Museum of Contemporary Art; Montreal, The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts; Munich, Haus der Kunst; Hamburg, Deichtorhallen; Brusels, palais des Beaux-Arts; and Columbus, Wexner Center for the Arts, Roy Lichtenstein, October 1993 - January 1996, pp. 82-83, no. 74, illustrated in color
Roslyn Harbor, New York, Nassau County Museum of Art, Contemporary American Masters: The 1960s, June - September 1999, p. 39, illustrated
New York, Gagosian Gallery, Roy Lichtenstein: Early Black and White Paintings, November - December 2001, p. 17, illustrated in color
London, Hayward Gallery, All About Art, February - May 2004
Cologne, Kunsthaus Bregenz, Roy Lichtenstein: Classic of the New, June - September 2005, pp. 36-37, illustrated in color

Literature

Peter Kattenberg, Andy Warhol, Priest: "The Last Supper Comes in Small, Medium, and Large," Leiden, 2001, p. 21, pl. 3, illustrated
Michael Lobel, Image Duplicator: Roy Lichtenstein and the Emergence of Pop Art, New Haven, 2002, p. 105 (text), p. 106, fig. 66, illustrated
Exh. Cat., New York, The Morgan Library & Museum (and travelling), Roy Lichtenstein: The Black-and-White Drawings, 1961-1968, 2011, p. 122, fig. 52, illustrated in color
Exh. Cat., Chicago, The Art Institute of Chicago (and travelling), Roy Lichtenstein: A Retrospective, 2012, p. 29, fig. 7, illustrated in color
Exh. Cat., London, Lévy Gorvy, Source and Stimulus: Polke Lichtenstein Laing, 2018, pp. 68-69, illustrated in color

Catalogue Note

Created during one of the most important moments of his career, Roy Lichtenstein’s Like New is an early Pop art masterpiece, in which the stunning visual power of his signature Ben-Day dots are unfurled in a sleek, Minimalist design, displaying the subtle undercurrents of the artist’s wry sense of humor. Painted in 1962, Like New illustrates the unique, two-part format that Lichtenstein had explored in at least two other paintings from this important era, such as Step-on Can with Leg and Bread in Bag. Each of these paintings display two panels that are placed side-by-side, where a cause-and-effect is created between the action in the left panel and the imagery on the right. In Like New, Lichtenstein’s source is an advertisement for screen door repair, where the left panel shows the damaged screen, and the right panel shows the repair. The flawless finish of the repaired door is, as the title suggests, “like new.” In this, an early Pop art painting that employs the Ben-Day dot, the artist’s interest in mimicking the look of commercial illustrations is taken to an extreme, almost comic level, as the entire right panel is given over to a dizzying field of perfectly regimented dots. As this painting clearly demonstrates, Lichtenstein was quite fascinated with the relationship between the mechanically-produced dots and their capacity to dissolve into total abstraction. Like New can be seen as Lichtenstein’s witty retort to the visual mechanics of artistic creation, as well as his sly reference to the visual mechanics of artistic reproduction and uncanny anticipation of the burgeoning Minimalism movement.

In Like New, Lichtenstein features a two-part diptych that he arranges within a hinged frame. Placed side-by-side, the two panels display an almost perfect symmetry, except for the sizable hole that seems to have been burned into the surface of the otherwise matching screen. Looking closer, the viewer discovers that Lichtenstein’s rendering is composed of a flawless scrim of perfectly rendered Ben-Day dots, which, by their unique optical effects, work in tandem to convey the illusion of the screen door’s mesh grid. Peering along the singed edges of the gaping hole, the brilliance of Lichtenstein’s technique comes to the fore, as one discovers that he has rendered the uneven and fraying edges of the hole by simply grouping together a thicker accumulation of dots. Nestled in such a tight arrangement, the dots are bent, squeezed and distorted, and this differs from the crisp uniformity of the rest of the illustration. In the right panel, Lichtenstein allows his fascination with the mechanically-produced Ben-Day dots to culminate in a symphony of uninterrupted dots. Rather than look mechanical or machine-made, however, Lichtenstein subtly varies his presentation in order to present more nuance. He depicts the subtle undulations and surface irregularities of the actual screen mesh by slightly varying the placement of dots, arranging some in diagonal rows and others along a different axis. The resulting image straddles the curious line between the realism of its representation and sheer abstract design, as it oscillates back and forth between the thing it depicts and allover abstraction.

1962 marks a breakthrough year for Lichtenstein, when the fundamental attributes of his Pop art style crystalized into its mature form. At the time, Lichtenstein was creating a series of black-and-white paintings of common household objects, using simple, crisp black outlines and Ben-Day dots, along with some of his earliest comic book paintings.  This moment marks the beginning of Lichtenstein’s interest in replicating the look of the half-tone printing process, in which he appropriated the Ben-Day dots for his own purposes. Rather than copy his source image verbatim, Lichtenstein always made subtle adjustments, and in Like New, Lichtenstein’s Ben-Day dots are used to illustrate a series of events (a feature that is replicated in comic-book panels). They provide a sense of chronological action or passing time from one panel to the next, and Lichtenstein seems fascinated by the deliberately limited visual format of the two-part structure. In the first image, the viewer is able to see through the opening in the damaged screen, while in the second, our vision is blocked. It is only upon further consideration that the viewer discovers that the illusion of seeing through the broken screen is but an illusory trick. That which is revealed by the hole in the screen is simply the bare canvas itself, and the entire process repeats itself in a tantalizing loop.

Like New was acquired shortly after it was created by the art historian Robert Rosenblum, an astute observer of Pop art whose intellect was matched only by the warmth of his personality and his refined eye. Rosenblum wrote a seminal article on Lichtenstein’s work in 1963 that lent validity and strength to the artist’s already burgeoning career. In 2002, Rosenblum literally wrote the book on Lichtenstein’s black-and-white paintings, which he praised as “hilarious and unsettling.” (Robert Rosenblum, New York, Gagosian Gallery, Exh. Cat., Roy Lichtenstein: Early Black and White Paintings, 2002, p. 13) In his description of Like New, Rosenblum believed that Lichtenstein based his depiction on a dry-cleaners advertisement for restoring clothing that had been accidentally burned by a cigarette, making it a curious relic of a bygone era in which smoking was still fashionable. He wrote: “In Like New, the before-and-after demonstrations of American advertising are transformed into a painting whose abstract qualities are more explicit than usual in Lichtenstein’s work...There could hardly be a better example of Lichtenstein’s ability to re-create the tawdry visual environment of commercial imagery as an extraordinary abstract invention.” (Robert Rosenblum, “Roy Lichtenstein and the Realist Revolt,” 1963; reprinted in On Modern American Art: Selected Essays By Robert Rosenblum, New York, 1999, pp. 195-6) Indeed, Like New is a brilliant embodiment of the artist's astute observations on the mechanics of visual representation and its real-world counterparts, making it an important relic from a seminal moment in Pop art history.

Contemporary Art Evening Auction

|
New York