The Surrealist Series

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In 1977, Roy Lichtenstein entered his brief but impactful Surrealist period, finding inspiration in the absurdist works of Salvador Dalí, Rene Magritte, Max Ernst, and Pablo Picasso. Lichtenstein’s carefully planned compositions and cartoon aesthetic couldn’t be more different from the instinctive, dreamlike practices of the Surrealists—and the challenge of integrating these disparate styles intrigued him. For example, the Pop artist’s Nude on Beach (1978) portrays a blonde woman, composed entirely of graphic red stripes, melting on the beach—a reference to the oozing clocks in Dalí’s famous painting The Persistence of Memory (1931). While Lichtenstein revisited multiple art movements (including Art Deco, Futurism, Cubism, and German Expressionism) throughout his career, his Surrealist period is among his most commercially popular series. His painting Landscape with Figures (1977) reached $18 million with fees at Christie’s in 2014, while Female Head (1977) set a new record for the …

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