Roy Lichtenstein, ‘Weisman Award (Yellow Brushstroke)’, 1991, Phillips

From the Catalogue:
Only the initial 19 produced in the original lifetime casting were distributed as awards between 1991-95 by the Frederick R. Weisman Art Foundation. There were two posthumous castings by other fabricators, including approximately 12 in 2002-06 and 100 in 2012, although as of this date, the foundation has no plans to distribute them.

Weisman Award (Yellow Brushstroke) is a sculpture from 1991 showing one of Roy Lichtenstein’s iconic Brushstrokes. These celebrated works form an important part of the Pop Art canon, having first appeared in Lichtenstein’s paintings in the 1960s; they remained a key motif throughout the rest of his career. In the Brushstrokes, Lichtenstein analysed and satirised the focus on the artistic gesture that had grown during the Twentieth Century. Lichtenstein took the simple brushstroke, the product of a fleeting moment of action, and instead made a cartoon version of it, resulting in something that appeared mechanical.

Lichtenstein’s paintings featuring the Brushstroke motif attacked the idea in two dimensions; when he created them in three dimensions, he added an extra layer of meaning, as is the case in Weisman Award (Yellow Brushstroke). Here, the trails and spatter of a hastily-daubed brushstroke are captured through wavy bronze, while the vivid yellow of the paint itself is captured through the intense medium of enamel. As Lichtenstein himself explained, ‘My recent sculpture of a Brushstroke is an attempt to give strong form to something that is a momentary occurrence, to solidify something ephemeral, to make it concrete. The Brushstroke, the painter’s Brushstroke in bronze!’ (Roy Lichtenstein, quoted in G. Mercurio, Lichtenstein: Meditations on Art, exh. cat., Milan, 2010, p. 221).

For Lichtenstein, one of the other appeals of working in three dimensions was the additional frame of reference his sculpture now invoked. Weisman Award (Yellow Brushstroke) has clear affinities with, say, the works of the American artist David Smith, whose sculptures had become legendary and were often linked to his Abstract Expressionist contemporaries. Smith’s Song of the Landscape, for instance, echoes the general composition of Weisman Award (Yellow Brushstroke), despite remaining largely abstract and evocative. Lichtenstein was aiming his satirical sights at the great guns of American post-war art when he created his Brushstrokes, lampooning and critiquing painters such as Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning, and also sculptors such as Smith, Julio Gonzalez and Pablo Picasso. The deliberate flatness of Lichtenstein’s sculpture adds to his playful goading of these legends of the past—the sculptures of Smith, Gonzalez and Picasso all convey a sense of drawing in space. Lichtenstein, however, undermines the entire notion of the artwork functioning ‘in the round’, thereby deconstructing another medium.

The nineteen original examples of Weisman Award (Yellow Brushstroke) were created as an award by the Frederick R. Weisman Art Foundation. The Foundation supports the arts across a range of ventures while also exhibiting its own collection widely. Much of that collection is on display at the museum in Weisman’s Los Angeles home, where Lichtenstein’s own works can be seen alongside those of artists such as Alberto Giacometti, de Kooning, Clyfford Still and Andy Warhol.
Courtesy of Phillips

Signature: incised 'rF Lichtenstein' and stamp numbered 9 on the bottom of the base (from the initial lifetime casting of 19: 13 numbered edition pieces and 6 lettered A-F), commissioned by the Frederick R. Weisman Art Foundation and produced by Gemini G.E.L., Los Angeles (with their stamps on the underside), with posthumous sets executed in 2003 and 2012.

Gemini G.E.L. 1507

Private Collection
Phillips, New York, 28 April 2014, lot 66
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner

About Roy Lichtenstein

When American Pop artist Roy Lichtenstein painted Look Mickey in 1961, it set the tone for his career. This primary-color portrait of the cartoon mouse introduced Lichtenstein’s detached and deadpan style at a time when introspective Abstract Expressionism reigned. Mining material from advertisements, comics, and the everyday, Lichtenstein brought what was then a great taboo—commercial art—into the gallery. He stressed the artificiality of his images by painting them as though they’d come from a commercial press, with the flat, single-color Ben-Day dots of the newspaper meticulously rendered by hand using paint and stencils. Later in his career, Lichtenstein extended his source material to art history, including the work of Claude Monet and Pablo Picasso, and experimented with three-dimensional works. Lichtenstein’s use of appropriated imagery has influenced artists such as Richard Prince, Jeff Koons, and Raymond Pettibon.

American, 1923-1997, New York, New York, based in New York and Southampton, New York