Lichtenstein’s “Interiors” Are a Touchstone for the Pop Master’s Late Work
At New York’s Susan Sheehan Gallery, a group of newly acquired prints from Roy Lichtenstein’s canonical “Interiors” series serve as a prime window into the artist’s later production. The prints focus on inscrutable living spaces, devoid of inhabitants and inspired by advertisements selected from newspapers, magazines, and the Yellow Pages directory. They are unique in Lichtenstein’s oeuvre having preceded his paintings of the same subject rather than being derived from them.
Initially conceived in 1989 and developed in a series of collages throughout the following year, Lichtenstein began printing the “Interiors” at Gemini G.E.L., Los Angeles in 1990. The spaces are realized through a combination of printing techniques including lithography, woodcut, and screenprint—printing processes that harken back to comic books whose Ben-Day dots and graphic forms were the inspiration for Lichtenstein’s earliest works and informed his signature style. Featuring furniture and decoration that exemplifies modernist living at the time, these prints are both a time capsule and a critical idealization of the era from which they came.
Recurring themes and techniques that came to characterize the “Interiors” series can be seen in these works, particularly the way Lichtenstein appropriated artwork from his contemporaries in a deadpan manner. Yellow Vase (1990) allows the viewer to peek into a curtained space with an L-shaped couch and a prominently placed Warhol flower. And in Red Lamps (1990), a Pollock-like painting in primary colors trails off to the right side of the composition; Lichtenstein reclaims the Abstract Expressionist work that his style initially rebelled against. And for a final note of wry irony, The Living Room (1990) features one of Lichtenstein’s own “Brushstroke” works, thereby finalizing the circular reference that places his own work, along with that of his fellow artists, under the same umbrella of commodification.