Acrylic, oil, graphite pencil on canvas mounted to wall
816 x 384 in. (2072.6 x 975.4 cm)
Signed and dated lower right: rf Lichtenstein / '86
Classification: painting (mural)

Painting

In this catalogue paintings are classified as follows:

Painting is a work with acrylic and/or oil on canvas or on another two-dimensional support (canvas board, wood panel, etc.)

Painting (mural) is a large-scale painting, historically called "mural"

Painting on paper describes a work in acrylic, oil or watercolor on paper or board

Dates

Lichtenstein usually signed and dated a painting on the verso around the time it was finished, inventoried or shipped to a gallery or storage. Some pre-Pop paintings were dated in code (e.g., RLCR 502). 

See also: 8. DATES

Media Lines

Described are all media visible on a painting's recto. Paint is listed first, followed by graphite pencil where present, followed by the support. An inscription's medium is given beneath the media line if different from the painting media.

Acrylic and Oil Paints

The painting media lines in this catalogue are rarely based on technical analysis by a museum or a conservator. They are mostly informed by conversations with the artist's studio assistants, by examination of paint jars and tubes that were kept after the artist's death and by RLF records or Leo Castelli Gallery files. 

In this catalogue, all types of acrylic paint are listed as "acrylic" and all types of oil paint as "oil."

Historically, the brand name "Magna" (acrylic dispersion paint by Bocour Artist Colors, Inc.) has been used to describe all of Lichtenstein's acrylic. RLF records and technical analysis by art museums confirm that the artist did not only use Magna, but at times Liquitex acrylic emulsion paint and, later, Golden Artist Colors acrylic dispersion paint. When Magna production stopped in c. 1990, Lichtenstein bought up large amounts of Magna. He also reached out to Golden who worked with him to devise custom MSA colors in Lichtenstein's hallmark hues.      

Pop paintings and later works were usually painted with both acrylic and oil. It is assumed that around 1962, Lichtenstein experimented with Liquitex and Magna before adopting Magna as the main medium. For paintings of 1962–63, media lines are informed by notes on RL Studio Cards and/or in the Leo Castelli Gallery inventory. In rare instances, media lines were written by the artist on the verso of a work (e.g., RLCR 691). For paintings of 1964 and beyond, solid colors are assumed to be acrylic and dots and diagonals oil. However, it is possible that Lichtenstein continued his experimentation with paints through and after 1964.

Graphite Pencil Underdrawing

A closer look at Lichtenstein's paintings reveals that graphite pencil underdrawing and palimpsest is visible in most of them, starting in the 1960s. Nevertheless, pencil has not historically been mentioned in the related media lines. Due to the artist's well-known intention that his work not appear "too finished," this catalogue includes pencil in media lines. If in question from examination report results or other documentation, the presence of graphite pencil is assumed. When a researcher's examination report confirms that pencil is not visible, it is not included. 

Painting: Other Mediums and Techniques

Canvas
Different types of canvas are not described. A regular type used was #10 cotton duck from New York Central Art Supply. Circular canvases were at least partially ordered there as well. Earlier paintings' canvases are typically finer and sometimes described as "linen" in studio records. 

Sand
In the Imperfect/Perfect and Entablature paintings, grainy areas are visible. Lichtenstein created this texture by adding beach sand, usually to a thick white underlayer over which he applied the final color. 

Sgraffito
This reductive technique of line-making is found in about 25 pre-Pop paintings. 

Stretchers
Stretchers are not included in media lines. Lebron stretchers were standard orders from c. 1972 on, and were typically delivered assembled. A different stretcher brand was introduced once and quickly abandoned.  

Strip frames
Strip frames are not included in media lines. Slightly raised above the edges, strip frames served as a practical protection during shipment and storage movements and were routinely added to paintings at least from the time James dePasquale became Lichtenstein's assistant.   

Painting on Paper: Other Mediums and Techniques

Masking out
Masking techniques are indicated, but the material used (e.g., frisket, small objects) is not identified (e.g., RLCR 219).

Watercolor application
When it is applied in multiple ways, watercolor application method is described, otherwise brush is implied. For example, see RLCR 365, “Watercolor, brushed, smudged by hand and sprayed, with masking out, graphite pencil on paper." 

Dimensions

Painting dimensions are given from canvas edge to canvas edge, excluding original wood strip frames nailed to the edges. 

For multi-panel paintings, if panels are joined, overall dimensions and dimensions of each canvas are given. If panels are separate, only panel dimensions are provided since overall dimensions vary by installation. Lichtenstein usually suggested a distance of approximately 7 inches between canvases for installation. This fact informed spacing of related images in the catalogue entries (e.g., RLCR 1635). 

See also: 10. DIMENSIONS

Signature, Inscriptions, Marks

The artist usually signed and dated his paintings on the canvas verso in charcoal and applied a spray fixative before sending it to a gallery or storage.  

Pre-Pop paintings are often signed or initialed on the recto in oil, or inscribed with the artist's name and other tombstone information on the stretcher or tacking margin. 

See also: 11. INSCRIPTIONS

Read more: Guide to the Catalogue
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Catalogue entry

Artwork: Mural with Blue Brushstroke, 1986 (RLCR 3573) Photo: Joshua McHugh
RLCR 3573 (LC 1011; RL 1021)
Mural with Blue Brushstroke
1986
Title Source
Castelli; RL Studio Card; RL Studio Photograph
Media
Acrylic, oil, graphite pencil on canvas mounted to wall
Dimensions
816 x 384 in. (2072.6 x 975.4 cm)
Inscriptions
Signed and dated lower right: rf Lichtenstein / '86
Remarks

The related final collage RLCR 3313 was submitted to Equitable for approval in December 1984.

Keyword
Commission
Photo: Joshua McHugh
Related Works
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Provenance
The Equitable Life Assurance Society, New York City
AXA Equitable, 1991
CommonWealth Partners, January 2016
Literature
Brewster, Todd. "Pop Primer: Roy Lichtenstein's Monumental Mural Explains the Modern Movement." Life 9, no. 6 (June 1986), p. 75 color ill. (with artist, in situ).
Kimball, Roger. "Art and Architecture at the Equitable Center." New Criterion (New York) 5, no. 3 (November 1986), pp. 30–31 not ill.
Stephens, Suzanne. "An Equitable Relationship?" Art in America 74, no. 5 (May 1986), p. 116 color ill. (in situ), p. 118 color ill. (in situ).
Viladas, Pilar. "Equitable: Art for All." Progressive Architecture 67, no. 5 (May 1986), p. 26 color ill. (in situ).
Adelman, Bob, and Calvin Tomkins. The Art of Roy Lichtenstein: Mural with Blue Brushstroke. New York: Arcade Publishing, 1987, p. 6 color ill. (in progress), p. 127 color ill. (with artist), front cover color ill. (with artist), back cover color ill. (with artist).
Illés, Vera. "Schilderen of het gedrukt staat." Elsevier (Amsterdam) 43, no. 29 (July 18, 1987), p. 15 color ill. (in situ).
Rose, Bernice. The Drawings of Roy Lichtenstein. New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1987. Exhibition catalogue (1987 New York MoMA), pp. 52–53 not ill. [not exhibited].
Windmöller, Eva. "Die Gala-Show des Comic-Kunstlers: Lichtenstein's Puzzle-Bild entschlusselt: Von der Antike bis zur Moderne reichen die Motive seiner Wand-Collage." Stern (Hamburg), no. 4 (January 1987), pp. 42–43 color ill. (double spread; in situ), pp. 44–45 color ill.
Hendrickson, Janis. Roy Lichtenstein. Cologne: Benedikt Taschen, 1988, n.p. facing p. 90 color ill. (in situ, with artist).
Krasnow, Iris (Photographs by Grace Sutton). "The Patriarch of Pop: Roy Lichtenstein." Museum and Arts 4, no. 5 (September–October 1988), p. 61 color ill. (in situ, with artist).
Shinoda, Tazmi. "Roy Lichtenstein: On 'Mural with Blue Brushstroke'/ Lichtenstein's Mural: A Purgatory of ‘Merry-Go-Round.'" Mizue (Tokyo), no. 947 (Summer 1988), n.p. color ill. (in situ, with artist), n.p. color ill. (details, with artist).
Taylor, Paul. "Roy Lichtenstein." Flash Art, no. 148 (October 1989), p. 88 color ill. (in situ).
Geldzahler, Henry. "Mural with Blue Brushstroke." Graphis 48, no. 279 (May–June 1992), p. 107 color ill. (detail), p. 109 color ill.
Waldman, Diane. Roy Lichtenstein. New York: Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, 1993. Exhibition catalogue (1993 New York Guggenheim), no. 278 n.p. facing p. 351 color ill. (dated 1986), [not exhibited].
Bode, Peter M. "Roy Lichtenstein: Am Anfang war der Comic Strip." Art: Das Kunstmagazin (Hamburg), no. 10 (October 1994), p. 29 color ill.
Waldman, Diane. Roy Lichtenstein. Translated from the English by Bram Opstelten and Magda Moses. New York: Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, 1994. Exhibition catalogue (1993 New York Guggenheim), no. 278 n.p. facing p. 351 color ill. (dated 1986), [not exhibited].
Hendricks, Norine S. "Pop Goes the Artist: Roy Lichtenstein." Timeline (Columbus: Ohio Historical Society) 17, no. 5 (September–October 2000), p. 33 color ill. (in situ).
Serafini, Giuliano. Art e Dossier. Special issue, Lichtenstein (Milan), no. 152 (January 2000), p. 47 color ill.
Clearwater, Bonnie. Roy Lichtenstein: Inside/Outside. North Miami: Museum of Contemporary Art, 2001. Exhibition catalogue (2001 North Miami MOCA), fig. 12 p. 33 color ill. [not exhibited].
Doris, Sara Kathleen. Pop Art and the Contest over American Culture. Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press, 2007, no. 46 p. 231 b/w ill. (in situ).
Faton-Boyancé, Jeanne, ed. L'objet d'art. Special issue, Roy Lichtenstein exposition au Centre Pompidou, no. 69 (July 2013), p. 45 color ill.
Gagosian Gallery, New York, and Roy Lichtenstein Foundation. Roy Lichtenstein: Greene Street Mural. New York: Gagosian Gallery, 2015. Exhibition catalogue (2015 New York Gagosian), fig. 33 n.p. facing p. 57 color ill. (in progress), fig. 34 n.p. facing p. 157 color ill. (in progress), fig. 35 p. 157 color ill. [not exhibited].