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Roy Lichtenstein 1923 - 1997

Nudes Series: Two Nudes , 1994

From the Nudes series
Relief print on Rives BFK mold-made paper

Sheet:  48 1/16 x 41 3/16” (122.1 x 104.7)
Image:  41 5/8 x 35 1/16” (105.8 x 89.1)

Inscription:  Numbered, signed (rf Lichtenstein) and dated (’94) in pencil, lower right.  Blind stamp, lower right: ( Graphics Ltd, chop).  Workshop number on verso in pencil, lower left (RL93-3103)
Edition:  40; plus 12 AP, 1 RTP, 1 PPI, 1 PPII, 1 TGLimp. 1 A, 1 C

Publisher:  Tyler Graphics Ltd, 
Printer:  Tyler Graphics Ltd, 

Literature:  Cohen-Tyler  (1994)
Catalogue Raisonne Corlett  284   (Page 256)

Lichtenstein began work on collages for the Nudes series in his New York studio during the spring of 1993.  In December of that year he hand-cut the Rubylith stencils for the key (outline) relief plates for each image, and in February 1994 he made his first visit to the workshop for this project.

Most of the plates used to print the series were assembled using an aluminium, or in some cases Lexan - a rigid, thick plastic - base plate on which were mounted the irregularly shaped photo-polymer plastic pieces that created the image areas.  The key (outline) plates, with one exception, were made of an irregularly shaped magnesium plate mounted onto a base plate.  (For one key plate, the irregularly shaped plate was made of plastic.)

Swan Engraving generated the dots and canvas patterns by computer (for the first time with Lichtenstein's work), using these to make dye-cut stencils and positive film that could be transferred to the photopolymer for processing and printing.  Tyler's printers hand-cut the stencils for the remaining shapes and stripes.  Once processed and mounted onto the base plates, the raised surfaces of these irregularly shaped pieces were inked and then printed using a flatbed offset printing press.

Based on 'love' and 'girl' comic-book illustrations, not live models, these were the artist's first images of the subject.  Soon thereafter he explored the theme in his painting.  The series, which consists of six images and three states, also contains iconographic references to others of his earlier works: the Mirrors, Imperfects, Waterlillies, and Interiors.

Lichtenstein had often before used variable-sized dots in his images.  In his prints they can be found as early as the Peace Through Chemistry series, but the dots in the Nudes series have a new characteristic, creating an undulation of light and space by flowing over several objects at a time, rather than being contained within the boundaries of a single object or outline.

The dots function as both a two-dimensional pattern (overlay) and as a suggestion of three-dimensional space and form.  As Lichtenstein told David Sylvester in 1997: "It's a little bit the way chiaroscuro isn't just shadows but a way of combining the figure and the background, or whatever's near it in a dark area... You're not confined to the object pattern, but the subject matter excuse for this is that it's a shadow.  And that's interesting to me."

Lichtenstein is quoted in a newspaper article in November 1994 as having said that the nude form itself is a "good excuse to contrast undulating and volumetric form with rigid geometry."  This same contrast of undulation and rigidity can be seen in the dot patterns themselves, which cause the picture space seemingly to undulate forward and away from the picture plane, while at the same time each dot is a precise geometric circle.

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Gul Coskun