Oil, graphite pencil on canvas
42 5/16 x 56 3/16 in. (107.5 x 142.7 cm)
Copyrighted, dated and initialed lower left: © 1961 / rfl; inscribed stretcher, top center: To Isabel
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
Print this page

Catalogue entry

Artwork: Popeye, 1961 (RLCR 648)
RLCR 648 (LC I; RL 0514)
Title Source
Castelli; RL Studio Card
Oil, graphite pencil on canvas
42 5/16 x 56 3/16 in. (107.5 x 142.7 cm)
Copyrighted, dated and initialed lower left: © 1961 / rfl; inscribed stretcher, top center: To Isabel
Collection David Lichtenstein, 1961 (artist gift)
Private collection, May 2005 (via Gagosian Gallery, New York City)
Parrish Art Museum, Southampton, New York, Roy Lichtenstein: Paintings, August 8–September 19, 1982.
Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, Pop Art 1955–70, February 27–April 14, 1985 (Geldzahler 1985, p. 58 color ill.). Traveled to: Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane, Australia, April 30–June 2, 1985; National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia, June 25–August 11, 1985.
University Art Museum, University of California, Berkeley, California, Made in U.S.A.: An Americanization in Modern Art, the '50s and '60s, April 4–June 21, 1987 (Stich 1987, no. 152 p. 153 color ill.). Traveled to: Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri, July 25–September 6, 1987; Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, Virginia, October 7–December 7, 1987.
Museum of Modern Art, New York, High and Low: Modern Art and Popular Culture, October 7, 1990–January 15, 1991 (installed in Los Angeles until August 26, 1991) (Varnedoe and Gopnik 1990a); (Varnedoe and Gopnik 1990b). Traveled to: Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, February 23–May 12, 1991; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, June 21–September 15, 1991.
Royal Academy of Arts, London, Pop Art, September 13–December 15, 1991 (not Montreal) (Livingstone 1991a, no. 147 p. 78 color ill.). Traveled to: Museum Ludwig, Cologne, January 23–April 19, 1992 (Livingstone 1992c, no. 19 n.p. color ill.); Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid, June 16–September 14, 1992 (Livingstone 1992a, p. 74 color ill.); Musée des Beaux-Arts de Montréal, Montreal, October 23, 1992–January 24, 1993 (revised and re-organized with a selection of prints) (Livingstone 1992b).
Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, Hand-Painted Pop: American Art in Transition, 1955–62, December 6, 1992–March 7, 1993 (DeSalvo and Schimmel 1992, p. 48 color ill.). Traveled to: Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, April 3–June 20, 1993; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, July 9–October 10, 1993.
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Roy Lichtenstein: A Retrospective, October 7, 1993–January 16, 1994 (not New York, Los Angeles, Montreal) (Waldman 1993b, no. 22 n.p. facing p. 23 color ill.). Traveled to: Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, January 26–April 3, 1994; Musée des Beaux-Arts de Montréal, Montreal, May 26–September 5, 1994; Haus der Kunst, Munich, October 13, 1994–January 9, 1995 (included early works) (Waldman 1994, no. 22 n.p. facing p. 23 color ill.); Deichtorhallen, Hamburg, Germany, February 8–April 30, 1995 (included early works) (Waldman 1994, no. 22 n.p. facing p. 23 color ill.); Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels, June 2–September 3, 1995 (included early works) (Waldman 1994, no. 22 n.p. facing p. 23 color ill.); Wexner Center for the Arts, Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, September 21, 1995–January 7, 1996 (abridged version) (Waldman 1994, no. 22 n.p. facing p. 23 color ill.).
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, Extended Loan, December 1, 1998–October 1, 2001, LPS.040.
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, Roy Lichtenstein: A Tribute, January 16–April 25, 1999.
Louisiana Museum of Art, Humlebaek, Denmark, Roy Lichtenstein: All about Art, August 22, 2003–January 18, 2004 (Holm, Tøjner, and Caiger-Smith 2003a, no. 4 n.p. color ill.). Traveled to: Hayward Gallery, London, February 26–May 16, 2004 (as Roy Lichtenstein); Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid, June 24–September 27, 2004 (as Roy Lichtenstein) (Holm, Tøjner, and Caiger-Smith 2003b, no. 4 n.p. color ill.); San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, October 20, 2004–February 22, 2005 (as Roy Lichtenstein) (Holm, Tøjner, and Caiger-Smith 2003b, no. 4 n.p. color ill.).
Tully, Judd. "Lichtenstein." Horizon (Tuscaloosa, Ala.) 24, no. 9 (September 1981), p. 42 color ill.
Russell, John. "Seeing More Than Just Fun in Lichtenstein." New York Times, September 5, 1982, p. H17 b/w ill.
Busche, Ernst A. Roy Lichtenstein: Das Frühwerk, 1942–1960. Berlin: Gebr. Mann Verlag, 1988, fig. 123 p. 229 b/w ill., fig. 124 p. 229 b/w ill. (detail).
Livingstone, Marco. Pop Art: A Continuing History. 1st ed. New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1990, no. 97 p. 72 color ill.
Canemaker, John. "Popeye Meets Warhol." Traveler 26 (July 1991), p. 91 color ill.
BT: Bijutsu techō (Tokyo). Special Issue, Roy Lichtenstein 60's–90's 46, no. 689 (June 1994), p. 20 color ill.
Litt, Steven. "OSU Shows Off Alumnus." Plain Dealer (Cleveland), October 22, 1995, p. K1 color ill.
Hendricks, Norine S. "Pop Goes the Artist: Roy Lichtenstein." Timeline (Columbus: Ohio Historical Society) 17, no. 5 (September–October 2000), pp. 24–25 color ill. (double spread).
Lobel, Michael. "Technology Envisioned: Lichtenstein's Monocularity." Oxford Art Journal 24, no. 1 (2001), no. 5 p. 142 b/w ill.
Lobel, Michael. Image Duplicator: Roy Lichtenstein and the Emergence of Pop Art. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2002, no. 28 p. 60 color ill.
Louisiana revy (Humlebaek, Denmark). Special issue, Roy Lichtenstein 44, no. 1 (August 2003), no. 4 n.p. color ill.
Collins, Bradford R. "Modern Romance: Lichtenstein's Comic Book Paintings." American Art (New York) 17, no. 2 (Summer 2003), no. 3 p. 64 b/w ill.
Taylor, John Russell. "Dotting the Eyes in the Strip Show." Times (London), February 25, 2004, p. 13 color ill.
Van de Velde, Ronny. Artists' Handbook: George Wittenborn's Guestbook, with 21st Century Additions. Ghent: Ludion, 2007, no. H38 color ill.
Bader, Graham, ed. Roy Lichtenstein. October Files 7. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2009, p. 60 b/w ill.
Dervaux, Isabelle. Roy Lichtenstein: The Black-and-White Drawings, 1961–1968. Ostfildern, Germany: Hatje Cantz in association with the Morgan Library & Museum, New York, 2010. Exhibition catalogue (2010 New York Morgan), fig. 6 p. 34 color ill. [not exhibited].
Dervaux, Isabelle. Roy Lichtenstein: Black & White, 1961–1968. Translated from the English by Andrea Bargenda, Barbara Holle, Marion Kagerer, Christian Quatmann, and Heike Reissig. Ostfildern, Germany: Hatje Cantz in association with the Morgan Library & Museum, New York, 2011. Exhibition catalogue (2010 New York Morgan), fig. 6 p. 38 color ill. [not exhibited].
Pommereau, Claude, ed. Roy Lichtenstein au Centre Pompidou. Issy-les-Moulineaux, France: Beaux Arts Éditions, 2013, pp. 38–39 color ill. (double spread).
Entry Updated September 19, 2023