Corlett Catalogue Raisonné of the Prints of Roy Lichtenstein

I.10. Surrealist Series, 1978

Corlett 152–157

Lichtenstein began painting “surrealist” compositions in 1977, producing by 1979 about forty-nine “surrealist” paintings, plus ten American Indian/Surrealist works. As Jack Cowart points out, Lichtenstein mixed his own Pop forms (eyes, lips, hair) and compositional devices (stripes, dots) with the compositional structure of surrealism from the 1920s–1940s. (For further discussion, see Cowart 1981b, p. 109–25.) Magritte, in particular, was an inspiration.

Lichtenstein worked on the six prints of the Surrealist series at Gemini G.E.L. in the early months of 1978. They presented him with entirely new challenges and significantly altered his way of working. Since the 1960s Lichtenstein had generally utilized photographic and mechanical processes to obtain the clean, impersonal, mass-produced look he sought. But for the Surrealist series, he drew directly on the plates and stones with Spectracolor pencil, sometimes using a combination of Spectracolor pencil and tusche to create the larger areas of color. (Fine 1984, p. 191–92.) For this project Spectracolor pencil proved to be a better drawing medium than the regular lithographic pencil, because its sharpened point was less likely to break against the hard surface of the plate.

One of each print in this series was designated to support Change, Inc., the organization founded by Robert Rauschenberg in 1970 to provide emergency funds to artists in need.

(Corlett 2002, p. 151)