Corlett Catalogue Raisonné of the Prints of Roy Lichtenstein

II. Leo Castelli Gallery Prints, Posters, and Announcements

Corlett II.1–II.8, Corlett III.20, Corlett III.34

Beginning with his first solo exhibition at Leo Castelli Gallery in 1962, and continuing until 1967, Lichtenstein designed a number of images to be printed by offset lithography for mailers and posters announcing his exhibitions, in addition to two images which were printed as screenprints (RLCR 1021, 1340). Many of these images were also issued as signed prints, some of which were numbered editions. 

There were also a few offset lithographs published by the gallery during these years for which a mailer or poster counterpart has not been found. One cannot rule out the possibility that such counterparts exist, however, because according to Ivan Karp, then director of the gallery, these publications were all produced as posters or mailers until about 1965. Print overruns from the production of the posters/mailers were made available at the gallery and proved to be so popular as giveaways that the gallery began to order extra copies. A minimal fee (US $5.00 or US $10.00) was then charged to cover the extra printing costs. Usually about 300–350 extra copies were printed for distribution at the gallery. Lichtenstein often signed these as a courtesy. The increased demand for the posters eventually led to the production in the mid-sixties of posters without mailer counterparts. As Karp explained, “It became a regular tradition at the gallery to have signed posters available.”

These posters/mailers were printed by commercial printers about which little is known. The graphic designer Marcus Ratliff coordinated the production for many of these publications, sometimes selecting the printer in consultation with a broker named Gil Borgos, whose company was called Total Color. Total Color operated  from about 1962 to 1966, and the name appears on some of these editions. Borgos remembers having worked on RLCR 759, Crying Girl; RLCR 812, CRAK! and RLCR 991, Temple, possibly RLCR 3785, Foot and Hand; RLCR 1166, Sunrise and Foot Medication (Corlett App.3). Colorcraft in New York, originally owned by Richard Davison (for whom Borgos worked before founding Total Color), was the printer for some of these publications, including Crying Girl and the poster version of CRAK! In general, Lichtenstein would provide the black-line drawing of the image, with overlays for color; the designer would create the typography and layout of the poster/mailer and would see the job through to completion.

Due to the multiple functions and distribution methods of these prints, the distinctive and complex nature of their production, and the fact that some were issued as specified editions while others were not, they form a distinct group of Castelli Gallery artist promotion items. This group includes only those prints published exclusively by Leo Castelli Gallery during the 1960s and not connected to any other nongallery event or institution. Thus, the entries for the posters the Castelli Gallery co-published with another organization, such as RLCR 1297, Aspen Winter Jazz Poster; RLCR 1293, Brushstrokes for the Pasadena Art Museum (now called the Norton Simon Museum) and RLCR 1789, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum Poster, appear individually elsewhere in this online catalogue.   

In addition, another Leo Castelli Gallery publication from this period, not included in this catalogue, is Foot Medication (Corlett App.3), a poster that advertised a group drawing show of 1963. It reproduced Lichtenstein’s drawing included in that exhibition, rather than feature an original image he specifically designed for that poster. Also, about two decades later, Lichtenstein especially designed RLCR 3413, Brushstrokes, Palladium Invitation (1985) for a Leo Castelli Gallery after-opening party.  

Note: Information provided here and in the entries was amplified by Corlett's telephone conversations with Ivan Karp (July 8, 1993), Marcus Ratliff (September 21, 1993), Richard Davison (September 22, 1993), and Gil Borgos (September 29, 1993).

(Revised version of Corlett 2002, p. 281)