Oil, graphite pencil on canvas (two joined panels)
<span class="gray">Overall with frames:</span> 68 1/2 x 93 1/4 in. (174 x 236.9 cm)<div class="div_addlDim"><span class="gray">Left panel:</span> 68 x 56 in. (172.7 x 142.2 cm)</div><div class="div_addlDim"><span class="gray">Right panel:</span> 68 x 36 3/8 in. (172.7 x 92.4 cm)</div>
Unknown if signed or dated
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

RLCR 708 (LC 64; RL 0099)
Live Ammo (Take Cover!)
Title Source
Alternate titles and sources: Live Ammo (First 2 Panels) (RL Register); Live Ammo (Right Now) (Castelli); Live Ammo (Take Cover) Panel 1 of 4 (RLF); Live Ammo/Panel 1 (Take Cover) (RL Studio Card; RL Studio Photograph)
Oil, graphite pencil on canvas (two joined panels)
Overall with frames: 68 1/2 x 93 1/4 in. (174 x 236.9 cm)
Left panel: 68 x 56 in. (172.7 x 142.2 cm)
Right panel: 68 x 36 3/8 in. (172.7 x 92.4 cm)
Unknown if signed or dated
Examination Notes

Verso inaccessible.


Live Ammo is the title of a five-paneled work that may have been shown as such in the back room of Leo Castelli Gallery at the time of Lichtenstein's first solo show there (1962 New York Castelli). That same year the paintings were separated and subsequently sold as a diptych: RLCR 708, Live Ammo (Take Cover!); and three single paintings: RLCR 709 Live Ammo (Tzing!), RLCR 706 Live Ammo (Blang) and RLCR 707, Live Ammo (Ha! Ha! Ha!).

Mr. and Mrs. Morton G. Neumann, Chicago, December 1962 (via Leo Castelli Gallery, New York City) [Morton G. Neumann Family Collection]
Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, 66th Annual American Exhibition: Directions in Contemporary Painting and Sculpture, January 1–February 10, 1963 (only Chicago) (Art Institute of Chicago 1963, no. 44 b/w ill.). Traveled to: Centre Culturel Américain, Paris, May 10–June 20, 1963 (as De A à Z: 31 peintures américains choisis par The Art Institute of Chicago) (Centre Culturel Américain 1963).
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Six Painters and the Object, March 14–June 12, 1963 (Alloway 1963b, not ill. [as Live Ammo, Section 1 and Section 2]). Traveled to: Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, July 24–August 25, 1963 (with a supplementary exhibition titled Six More); Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minneapolis, September 3–29, 1963; University of Michigan Museum of Art, Ann Arbor, Michigan, October 9–November 3, 1963 (with a supplementary exhibition titled A New Realist Supplementary) (Sachs, Samuel 1963); Rose Art Museum, Brandeis University, Waltham, Massachusetts, November 18–December 29, 1963 (Sachs, Samuel 1963); Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh, January 17–February 23, 1964 (Sachs, Samuel 1963); Columbus Gallery of Fine Arts, Columbus, Ohio, March 8–April 5, 1964 (Sachs, Samuel 1963); The Art Center in La Jolla, La Jolla, California, April 20–May 17, 1964 (Sachs, Samuel 1963).
Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, 27th Annual Exhibition by the Society for Contemporary American Art, April 11–May 21, 1967.
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, New York Painting and Sculpture: 1940–1970, October 18, 1969–February 1, 1970 (Geldzahler 1969, no. 230 p. 217 b/w ill.).
National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., The Morton G. Neumann Family Collection, August 31–December 31, 1980 (Carmean and Hunter, S. 1980, p. 107 color ill.). Traveled to: Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, February 21–April 19, 1981.
Marisa del Re Gallery, New York, Masters of the Sixties: From New Realism to Pop Art, November 7–December 31, 1984 (Hunter, S. 1984, front cover color ill.).
National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., Twentieth-Century Painting and Sculpture: Selections for the Tenth Anniversary of the East Building, December 13, 1988–December 31, 1990 (Strick 1988).
S., F. "From the Comics to Art Exhibit." Chicago Daily News, January 26, 1963, p. 13 b/w ill.
"Pop Art: Cult of the Commonplace." Time 81, no. 18 (May 3, 1963), pp. 70–71 color ill. (double spread).
Ragon, Michel. "Où en est l'art américain?" Jardin des arts (Paris), no. 124 (March 1965), p. 11 b/w ill.
Melville, Robert. "I Know How You Must Feel, Roy." Architectural Review 143, no. 854 (April 1968), p. 291 b/w ill.
Waldman, Diane. Roy Lichtenstein. New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1971, no. 25 n.p. b/w ill. (foldout).
Alloway, Lawrence. "On Style: An Examination of Roy Lichtenstein's Development." Artforum 10, no. 7 (March 1972), p. 54 b/w ill. (as Live Ammo (Take Over-Right Now)).
Coplans, John, ed. Roy Lichtenstein. New York: Praeger Publishers, 1972, no. 11 n.p. b/w ill.
Waldman, Diane. Roy Lichtenstein. New York: Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, 1993. Exhibition catalogue (1993 New York Guggenheim), no. 86 n.p. following p. 97 color ill. [not exhibited].
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. 86 n.p. following p. 97 color ill. [not exhibited].
Lobel, Michael. Image Duplicator: Roy Lichtenstein and the Emergence of Pop Art. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2002, no. 50 p. 87 color ill.
Entry Updated October 23, 2023