While female figures served as heroines of Lichtenstein’s Pop narrative in the 1960s, a decade later his signature blondes take on more enigmatic roles. Executed in 1977, Female Head is one of the very finest examples of Roy Lichtenstein’s works from his so-called Surrealist period and is evocative of the artist’s genius and creativity. By dislocating and disconnecting the facial features of three portraits – two mirrored faces are joined by a third silhouette, which also functions as a brushstroke-like coif of yellow hair – the artist engages the complex worlds of Cubism, Surrealism, and Pop with unparalleled energy and imagination.
Female Head radiates with a seductive allure, executed in an intricate configuration of his favored primary-color palette, Ben-Day dots, and modernist line. Exhibited in a number of the artist’s most imporatnt exhibitions, inluding the 1933 retrospective at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, Female Head is exemplary of Lichtenstein’s contribution to the 20th century art history. Masterworks from this period of Lichtenstein’s body of work are held in renowned institutions around the world, including the Guggenheim Museum, the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Denmark and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
In addition to its stylistic context, this large-scale painting is impressive for its inclusion of the full arsenal of the artist’s iconography and technique drawn from the language of graphic and commerical art. One of his most complex meditations on ‘art about art’, Female Head is a visual tour of Roy Lichtenstein’s oeuvre; from the signature blonde to the female figure, the Ben-day dots to the brushstroke, and finally the mirror to the picture frame, all of his trademarks are present in this work. Marvelously engaging with the history of the fractured female form – paying homage to masters like Picasso, Magritte and Dali – Lichtenstein here weaves Surrealist archetypes with his own distinctive pioneering style, resulting in an image that is undeniably one of the most seductive paintings from the 1970s.
Appearing at auction for the first time, Female Head comes from the collection of Elizabeth R. Rea and the late Michael M. Rea, passionate collectors and proponents of the arts in all forms.
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