Oil, graphite pencil on canvas (two joined panels), hinged frame
<span class="gray">Overall with frame:</span> 32 1/2 x 53 in. (82.6 x 134.6 cm)<div class="div_addlDim"><span class="gray">Each panel:</span> 32 x 26 in. (81.3 x 66 cm)</div>
Signed and dated each panel verso, top center: rf Lichtenstein / '61
Classification: 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


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

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. 

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. 

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

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." 


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: Step-on Can with Leg, 1961 (RLCR 657)
RLCR 657 (LC 7; RL 0061)
Step-on Can with Leg
Title Source
Castelli; RL Studio Card
Alternate title and source: Garbage Can Diptych (RL Register)
Oil, graphite pencil on canvas (two joined panels), hinged frame
Overall with frame: 32 1/2 x 53 in. (82.6 x 134.6 cm)
Each panel: 32 x 26 in. (81.3 x 66 cm)
Signed and dated each panel verso, top center: rf Lichtenstein / '61
Related Works
Guy Atkins, London, by 1964 (via Leo Castelli Gallery, New York City)
Robert Fraser Gallery, London
Galerie Rudolf Zwirner, Cologne, by 1967
Collection Helga und Walther Lauffs, Germany, 1968
(Sotheby's, New York, November 12, 2002, sale 7842, lot 35)
Peter Brant, Greenwich, Conn.
(Sotheby's, New York, May 12, 2004, sale 7993, lot 31)
Fondation Louis Vuitton pour la Creation
Tate Gallery, London, '54–'64: Painting and Sculpture of a Decade, April 22–June 28, 1964 (Calouste Gulbenkian 1964, no. 264 n.p. facing p. 212 b/w ill.).
Kunstmarkt 67, Gürzenich, Cologne, Kunstmarkt 67, September 13–17, 1967 (Galerie Rudlof Zwirner booth) (Kunstmarkt 1967, no. 1 b/w ill.).
Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, Roy Lichtenstein, November 4–December 17, 1967 (Stedelijk Museum 1967). Traveled to: Tate Gallery, London, January 6–February 4, 1968 (Tate 1968b); Kunsthalle Bern, Bern, Switzerland, February 23–March 31, 1968 (Kunsthalle Bern 1968); (Tate 1968a); Kestner-Gesellschaft, Hannover, Germany, April 13–May 19, 1968 (Kestner-Gesellschaft 1968).
Kaiser Wilhelm Museum, Krefeld, Germany, 15 Jahre Sammlung Walther Lauffs im Kaiser Wilhelm Museum Krefeld, November 13, 1983–April 8, 1984 (Kaiser Wilhelm Museum 1983, no. 222 p. 76 color ill.).
Kaiser Wilhelm Museum, Krefeld, Germany, Extended Loan, 1983– c.1997.
Museum Haus Lange, Krefeld, Germany, Pow! Werke der Pop Art aus der Sammlung Lauffs, March 24–August 18, 2002 (Museum Haus Lange 2002, p. 19 color ill.).
Kunsthaus Bregenz, Bregenz, Austria, Roy Lichtenstein: Classic of the New, June 12–September 4, 2005 (Schneider, E. 2005b, pp. 26–27 color ill. [double spread]); (Schneider, E. 2005c, pp. 26–27 color ill. [double spread]).
Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Roy Lichtenstein: A Retrospective, May 16–September 3, 2012 (Rondeau and Wagstaff, Sheena 2012, no. 10 n.p. color ill.). Traveled to: National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., October 14, 2012–January 13, 2013; Tate Modern, London, February 21–May 27, 2013 (as Lichtenstein: A Retrospective) (Dunne 2012, no. 8 p. 13 color ill.); Musée National d'Art Moderne, Centre National d'Art et de Culture Georges Pompidou, Paris, July 3–November 4, 2013 (as Roy Lichtenstein, revised and reorganized) (Dunne 2013, no. 8 p. 13 color ill.); (Pompidou 2013); (Morineau 2013a, no. 15 p. 82 color ill.).
Berg, Paul. "About-Face from the Abstract." St. Louis Post-Dispatch Sunday Pictures, December 31, 1961, p. 10 b/w ill. (as Garbage Can; with artist and Leo Castelli).
"The Art of Lichtenstein." Scene (New York) 8, no. 4 (August 1962), p. 43 b/w ill.
Alfieri, Bruno. "USA: Verso la fine della pittura 'astratta'?/Vers la fin de la peinture 'abstraite'?/Towards the End of 'Abstract' Painting?" Metro (Milan), nos. 4–5 (May 1962), nos. 27–28 p. 11 b/w ill.
Rosenblum, Robert. "Roy Lichtenstein and the 'Realist' Revolt/La rivolta 'realista' americana: Lichtenstein." Metro (Milan), no. 8 (May 1963), no. 7 p. 41 b/w ill.
Blok, C. "Roy Lichtenstein." Museumjournaal voor moderne Kunst 12, no. 10 (1967), p. 281 b/w ill.
Hamilton, Richard. "Roy Lichtenstein." Studio International 175, no. 896 (January 1968), p. 22 b/w ill. (as Step on Can with Leg (Diptych)).
Tuchman, Phyllis. "American Art in Germany: The History of a Phenomenon." Artforum 9, no. 3 (November 1970), p. 63 b/w ill.
Waldman, Diane. Roy Lichtenstein. New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1971, no. 15 n.p. color ill. (panel 1 and 2 reversed).
Coplans, John, ed. Roy Lichtenstein. New York: Praeger Publishers, 1972, no. 3 n.p. following p. 68 b/w ill.
Hendrickson, Janis. Roy Lichtenstein. Cologne: Benedikt Taschen, 1988, n.p. facing p. 31 color ill.
Steiner, Wendy. "Divide and Narrate: Seurat, Warhol, and Lichtenstein." In Pictures of Romance: Form against Context in Painting and Literature. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1988, no. 34 p. 152 b/w ill.
Livingstone, Marco. Pop Art: A Continuing History. 1st ed. New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1990, no. 100 n.p. following p. 73 color ill.
Hindry, Ann, ed. Artstudio. Special issue, Roy Lichtenstein, no. 20 (Spring 1991), p. 41 color ill.
Livingstone, Marco. Pop Muses: Images of Women by Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol. Tokyo: Art Life Ltd., 1991. Exhibition catalogue (1991 Tokyo Isetan), fig. 12 p. 9 b/w ill. [not exhibited].
Waldman, Diane. Roy Lichtenstein. New York: Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, 1993. Exhibition catalogue (1993 New York Guggenheim), no. 73 n.p. following p. 79 color ill. (double spread), [not exhibited].
Vernissage Köln. Special issue, Roy Lichtenstein in München, no. 9 (September 1994), p. 23 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. 73 n.p. following p. 79 color ill. (double spread), [not exhibited].
Lobel, Michael. Image Duplicator: Roy Lichtenstein and the Emergence of Pop Art. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2002, no. 71 p. 112 color ill.
Faton-Boyancé, Jeanne, ed. L'objet d'art. Special issue, Roy Lichtenstein exposition au Centre Pompidou, no. 69 (July 2013), p. 27 color ill.
Morel, Francis, ed. Connaissance des arts. Special issue, Roy Lichtenstein, no. 589 (July–August 2013), p. 51 color ill.
Entry Updated October 23, 2023