Research and Resources
Since its beginning in 1999, the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation has been collecting information about any known works by the artist. Once the catalogue raisonné project started, a goal was set to examine each work in person. Over the course of more than 20 years, over a dozen researchers were hired, briefed and sent out to examine more than 5,000 artworks of all media and across all classifications (with the exception of prints and posters, which are already listed in The Prints of Roy Lichtenstein: A Catalogue Raisonné, 1948–1993, Corlett 2002).
Documentation always started by tracking down former and current owners, followed by countless research trips to private homes, galleries, museums and storage facilities, to auction rooms and other spaces worldwide. Researchers set out to inspect recto and verso of two-dimensional works and all angles of three-dimensional works. Every effort was made to have works removed from walls, unframed and made accessible for examination and photography.
Researchers were equipped with examination kits that included point-and-shoot cameras, later iPads or smart phones. Examination forms, expanded and improved over time, encouraged consistent documentation of mediums and techniques, and of supports and dimensions. We asked to transcribe signatures, dates, inscriptions or marks, and all labels found on versos, stretchers or frames. Photographs were requested of all sides of artworks, including the verso or underside, and close-ups of signatures, marks, labels and any other notable material qualities.
The RLCR research kits came with standard tools like measuring tape, flashlight and magnifying glass, as well as a spatula, a pocket microscope and eventually a paper thickness gauge. Color standards included color fans of swatches of pre-mixed paint hues and colored pencils, all remainders from the artist's studio, as well as The Print Council of America Paper Sample Book (Lunning and Perkinson 1996) or a color-managed digital printout of the paper color swatches therein. Researchers were often asked to organize high resolution photography of artworks during their visits and supervised shooting to help ensure close color accuracy.
All research reports and photographs were submitted to the catalogue manager or director in New York, where the material was reviewed and filed with the RLF Archives.
Examination of Works on Paper
Starting around 2014, works on paper were examined more closely due to an initiative to match drawings removed from sketchbooks to their respective books (see: 4.10. SKETCHBOOK and 4.11. SKETCHBOOK (NONEXTANT)). Researchers collected descriptions of paper edges (cut, torn, deckle), sheet structure (laid/wove), watermarks, blind stamps, thickness (by gauge), texture and color (according to The Print Council of America Paper Sample Book).
For prints and posters, this catalogue gives the information documented in Corlett 2002. When prints or posters were examined by the authors, it was mostly to confirm the correct reproduction of colors.
Examination of Editioned Sculpture
For the first 15 years of the project, each piece in an edition of less than 20 was examined. Only one representative cast or piece was examined for editions larger than 20. Closer to the catalogue's launch in 2023, unseen casts were no longer scheduled for physical research. Inscriptions for unseen casts state: "No information."
See also 4.9. SCULPTURE (EDITIONED)
An invaluable source of information has been the comprehensive holdings of the RLF Archives. Letters, invoices, loan forms, inventory cards and other papers helped to document provenances, exhibition histories and publication details. Key sources within these files were the following materials, often referred to specifically in catalogue entries:
RL Studio Cards
Index cards with typewritten tombstone information compiled by staff starting around 1990 for works for which they found previous studio documentation, e.g., annotated Polaroids by the artist. RL Studio Cards tend to address only works from 1960 on, but exist for select earlier works as well.
RL Studio Photographs (and Slides)
Photographs attached to RL Studio Cards, mostly Polaroid instant photos taken in the studio around the time of a work's completion. Sometimes they are inscribed and dated.
This term comprises several handwritten and typewritten lists the artist made as a sort of register to document sales and owners' names in the 1960s.
An umbrella term for inventories, invoices, insurance forms and other paperwork from the artist's main dealer, Leo Castelli Gallery.
Studio records of artwork movements and shipping, usually documented with dates and locations.
Studio records of phone calls, usually documented with date, caller and topic.
Invoices, receipts and check stubs related to payments to fabricators and suppliers.
Books collected by the artist and posthumously the artist's Foundation.
Materials from archives and libraries in New York and across the globe have informed numerous artwork descriptions, provenances, exhibition and literature entries.
Select publications have been instrumental to artwork description for works that we could not examine, or for which research was sparse. For early artworks, we usually refer to Busche 1988, for works on paper to Bianchini 1970 and Dervaux 2010b, as well as many exhibition and auction catalogues.
We are grateful to the many owners of artworks who so generously shared paperwork and other information about their purchases and sales.
Our research would have been impossible without the tireless support by staff of the Estate of Roy Lichtenstein. Equally invaluable were the years of correspondence and conversations with the artist's studio assistants, first and foremost James dePasquale, Robert McKeever, Olivia Motch and Carlene Meeker.
Last but not least we appreciate the many calls and emails with fabricators and printmakers that provided us with vitally important information about the artist's practice, about mediums and techniques.
Despite our best efforts we were not always able to locate and examine a work. A comment in the Examination Notes indicates the research status. The sources used for the data published in these entries are listed in Remarks.
Works that are currently unlocated are all listed here: Unlocated Works.