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Roy Lichtenstein

Early Black and White Paintings

November 3–December 22, 2001
980 Madison Avenue, New York

Roy Lichtenstein, Composition III, 1965 Magna on canvas, 46 × 48 inches (116.8 × 121.9 cm)

Roy Lichtenstein, Composition III, 1965

Magna on canvas, 46 × 48 inches (116.8 × 121.9 cm)

About

Gagosian is pleased to present the first exhibition devoted exclusively to the early 1960s black-and-white paintings by Roy Lichtenstein.

A key figure in the Pop art movement, Lichtenstein was inspired by images from comic books, newspaper advertisements, and mail-order catalogues. Printed for mass circulation, these materials used cheap papers and a few standard colors, and relied heavily on hand-drawn black lines that delineated all of the shapes and images.

Lichtenstein was attracted to the look of these printed images because they were as far from “art” as the average person could imagine. On the other hand, their basic hand-drawn line, intending to captivate the eye and whet the desires of the viewer, made them about as archetypal as image making can get.

For this reason, Lichtenstein’s early black-and-white Pop paintings—which he began in 1961 and made simultaneously with the comic-strip paintings—are central to his entire Pop enterprise. The black line defines the forms, as well as the words, of his paintings made from comics. Lichtenstein also recognized that entirely black and white drawings were often used in mass media catalogues and newspapers to sell items like flowering plants and trees, even though their real appeal was their color.

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