It is said that Lichtenstein was not particularly interested in the titles of his artworks. He has been quoted saying “I don’t care that much about titles. They probably shouldn’t be there. The painting is what it is” (Waldman 1971b, p. 71).
With this in mind, it comes as little surprise that different titles for the same artwork have been widely published during the artist's lifetime and beyond. Titles vary between studio records, the inventories of Lichtenstein's longtime dealer Leo Castelli or the various gallery and museum labels on paintings' stretchers. An inconsistent use of terms like "sketch," "study" or "drawing" for preparatory works is also common. Finally, the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation's database includes titles that were created by staff and were sometimes used as well.
For this catalogue, the authors determined a selection of primary title sources to be used as main or alternate title(s). Titles in these sources are always given, and all titles are in italics.
Title considerations also included the inscriptions on a work, whether on the recto, verso, stretcher, or on labels.
New titles have been created for many untitled or vaguely titled pre-pop works. Furthermore, a new title structure was created for all preparatory works to resolve inconsistencies and also attempt to reflect the artist's creative process.
When there are various title options known for a work, we usually made the most established title the main title (see for example: RLCR 927 and RLCR 928).
For works the artist did not title or the studio titled Untitled, the authors have in some cases determined a title based on the content (see for example: RLCR 31) and in other cases maintained the title as Untitled.
Main titles have their source listed under "Title Source" followed by the alternate titles with their source in parentheses:
Blue Grapes, 1972
Title Source: RL Studio Card; RL Studio Photograph
Alternate titles and Sources: Blue Grapes II (Castelli); Still Life, Blue Grapes II (RL Studio Photograph)
Titles that do not originate in any of the chosen primary sources are given along with their source, e.g., exhibition catalogues, auctions or gallery sales:
Head: Red and Yellow, 1962
1963 Houston CAM: Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston, Pop! Goes the Easel, April 4–30, 1963, (MacAgy 1963), no. 10 not ill. (as Head of Girl)
Interior with Skyline (Study), 1992
(Christie's, New York, May 10, 2006, sale 1659, lot 190 as Study for Interior with Skyline)
When titles were clearly used in error, we have added the qualifier "erroneously as":
Face (Green Nose), 1986
1986 London Mayor: Mayor Gallery, London, Roy Lichtenstein: New Paintings and Collages, (erroneously as Face (Green House)).
Further explanation about titles are sometimes added as Remarks, e.g., for titles only found in a correspondence or other matter.
Primary Title Sources
The primary sources that inform the titles in this catalogue include studio materials such as the artist’s early handwritten notes, inventory cards created by studio managers, and studio photographs with reference titles written on them (all in the RLF Archives). Other key sources are the files of Leo Castelli Gallery as well as the scholarly inventory-like publications dedicated to Lichtenstein's pre-pop work and his works on paper. Any title found in these sources can be found in an artwork's entry, either as main or alternate titles (given in alphabetical order).
Bianchini, Paul. Roy Lichtenstein: Drawings and Prints. 1st ed. Lausanne: Publications IRL, 1970. 2nd ed. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, . 3rd ed. Secaucus, N.J.: Wellfleet Books, 1988.
For titles of pre-Pop works, we usually refer to Busche's book as the primary source due to the fact that he discussed many titles with the artist while preparing his dissertation. Busche often references titles used in the early Lichtenstein exhibitions at John Heller Gallery, New York. If there is no Busche title available, we use Heller's titles. When Busche and Heller differ on titles, we use Busche's version and add the Heller title as an exhibition remark or, in rare cases, cite it in the commentary.
Busche (Berlin exhibition)
Checklist of the exhibition 1988 Berlin Amerika Haus, curated by Busche and based on his dissertation about Lichtenstein's pre-pop works.
All titles listed in Leo Castelli Gallery inventories (access courtesy Barbara Castelli).
The records of Leo Castelli Gallery hold information on nearly all of the artist's artworks from the 1960s.
Corlett, Mary Lee. The Prints of Roy Lichtenstein: A Catalogue Raisonné, 1948–1997. New York: Hudson Hills Press in association with the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 2002.
Print titles mostly reflect those found in the Corlett 2002 publication; if altered for consistency, Corlett’s titles are given as alternate titles.
Term used to describe the artist’s few 1960s typed and handwritten inventory-like lists of artworks and related sales.
RL Studio Card
These inventory cards were created by the artist’s studio managers and assistants, starting in the 1990s. They often, but not always, follow information found on the photographs that were habitually shot by the artist and his assistants once a work was completed or left the studio. The process of creating cards was continued by the Estate of Lichtenstein whenever non-inventoried works were found.
RL Studio Photograph
Photograph attached to RL Studio Cards, often labeled by the artist himself.
This abbreviation is used as an umbrella term for titles found in the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation's database and for titles that were created by the authors.
Rose, Bernice. The Drawings of Roy Lichtenstein. New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1987. Exhibition catalogue.
Titles of Preparatory Works
In this catalogue, main titles of preparatory works start with the title of the final work to which it relates, followed by a qualifier:
for flat works like drawings, collages, acetates, etc.
The term may also be used when there is no known final work, but the artist's practice points to a drawing's function as a study, or when a more finished work of the same subject and composition exists.
for separation drawings related to prints
for sculptures smaller than the final work
for sculptures of the same size as the final work, but not used as a prototype for fabrication
for sculptures of the same size as the final work and used for fabrication
for trial or test pieces made by fabricators
When there are several drawings on one sheet, we start with the most prominent one (that is related to a specific final work) and move on to the less prominent ones; if there is no prominent one we move from left to right or from top towards the bottom of the sheet.
Several black-and-white drawings from the 1960s and drawings like the Entablature works from 1970/1971 or the collages titled Brushstroke Head from 1986 are not preparatory, but independent works as far as we know it. The artist also created a small group of paintings that begin with Study for, which we have left titled as such: RLCR 1613, 1752, 1783, 2107 and 1279.
The artist frequently created and gifted small sketches as thank you notes or birthday cards. When the recipient of these illustrated notes, cards or letters is known and public, we have given their full name:
Illustrated Letter to Beatrice Lichtenstein, 1944
Titles derived from artist studio sources are transcribed entirely, with only typos and misspellings corrected; when a title included dimensions, dates or media, those were ignored. The Chicago Manual of Style guidelines were applied for capitalization standardization unless it interfered with the artist's spelling of a title. Exceptions include print titles, where we follow Corlett 2002, and titles using words in foreign languages, which are formatted case-by-case for clarity.
Titles for the artist’s cartoon-style works that include speech bubbles or emulate sound reflect the exact transcription of that text except for the use of title case instead of capitalization where applicable.
Works Made After Other Artists
Lichtenstein frequently quoted other works in his paintings, drawings, and sculpture, whether works by himself or other artists. In cases where the source is listed in our primary sources, we have incorporated the cited artist or work in the title. When an additional source has been determined, we have added Remarks to explain the source.
Sets and Series in Titles
For the hundreds of early sketches or drawings that cannot directly be connected with a single final work but a group of works, titles include terms that refer to the set or series with which they are related. Examples are Amerind (American Indian style elements), Brushstroke Sculpture (related to the artist's freestanding brushstroke sculptures), Chinese Style Landscape (related to Lichtenstein's East Asian style landscapes which were first exhibited under the category of “Landscapes in the Chinese Style” in 1996e New York Castelli), Entablature(s) (related to he artist's study of architecture) or Modern Element (related to both the paintings and sculptures of the "Modern" series). Other terms are Cubism, Expressionism, Futurism, Surrealism, etc., which refer to Lichtenstein's playing with motifs or elements of those genres or movements.
For the artist's Paintings group (1982–84), we have maintained the titles despite inconsistencies within this group due to the established nature of these titles.
For the Reflections paintings (1988–90), we have adjusted punctuation inconsistencies and made titles that reflect comics more consistent.
The 18 Haystack(s) paintings of the 1960s have been titled in singular or plural based on the image.
The Rowlux works have had many titles over the years used by the artist, galleries and in exhibitions, generally Landscape or Seascape. When there were several title options available, we generally chose the more specific title.