Roy Lichtenstein, Reflections: Sunday Morning, 1989. Image © Estate of Roy Lichtenstein.
The Pop-art of Roy Lichtenstein has garnered a great deal of attention this fall, with three monographic shows currently taking place in New York City. Reflections represents one third of this trio, presented at Mitchell-Innes & Nash gallery. As the title suggests, the twelve paintings featured are connected through themes of mirrors, reflection, and doubling. Also included are a number of preparatory drawings, which provide important insight into the development of these stylized, vivid depictions of fragmented figures and forms.
Mirror Four Panels #1 is the only painting in the show explicitly dedicated to its namesake object. The use of gradated dots to intimate variations in light addresses the optical qualities of reflection and its relationship to reality. Elsewhere Lichtenstein fragments images of Donald Duck, Dagwood, Wimpy, and a blond woman with shards of glass, mirrors, and other materials both luminous and matte. The accompanying dots, lines, stripes, and color blocks give the appearance of a shattered image, one that has been obscured and partially abstracted. The overall effect is a dynamic one; Lichtenstein plays a game with the rules of depth and perception.
Reality and illusion are ongoing motifs in Lichtenstein’s work. Inspiration for his mirror paintings specifically came from glass and mirror advertisements featured on brochures that the artist encountered in his neighborhood. The continued import of this visual infatuation is reflected in the dates of these paintings, which range from the early 1960s through the 90s. While the more literal format of works like Mirror Four Panels #1 are representative of images created in the 70s, the re-appropriation of earlier subject matter into fragmented forms is characteristic of his work the 80s. In many ways Interior with Perfect Painting, from 1992, acts as a complex culmination of these themes, with its depiction of a painting and its reflection within a painting.
– S. Zabrodski