This print is from a group of seven Reflections prints which Lichtenstein completed at Tyler Graphics in 1989-90, another of which also appears in Tate’s collection (Reflections on Brushstrokes, Tate P12128). The image is partly obscured by semi-abstract blocks of colour and pattern, both printed and collaged to the surface of the print, which simulate reflected light, as if the image shown is behind glass or reflected in another surface. This simulated reflection is a conceit Lichtenstein developed in a series of Reflections paintings he started in 1988, but has a precedent in earlier works. Lichtenstein regularly paraphrases other pictures in his art, often reusing aspects of his own works, and the works in the Reflections series are typical examples.
Lichtenstein, a leading figure of American Pop art, is best known for his 1960s paintings derived from comic strip panels, such as Whaam! 1963 (Tate T00897). The style of painting he developed highlighted the industrial printing methods used in the production of his source material. By reproducing the Benday dots of commercial printers, while harnessing them to decorative effect, Lichtenstein created works that had the appearance of having been mechanical produced.
Throughout his career, Lichtenstein continued to base his imagery on materials sourced from popular culture and the mass media. There is an element of humour, then, in Lichtenstein reusing his own motifs as Pop artists might quote found imagery, along with the recognition that his own works had become part of this collective mass of visual culture. Each work in the Reflections series refers directly to one aspect of Lichtenstein’s iconic Pop and comic images – the brushstroke, the war comic, the girl – as well as to the gilt frames of his Emblatures series of the mid 1970s or his Reflections series of images of mirrors. This particular image also refers to the ubiquitous blonde heroine of the comics that many Lichtenstein’s early paintings were based on. Here though, her face is obscured and, without a punch line to the comic strip, she is voiceless, reduced to merely a symbol, a head of brilliant blonde hair.
The production of the print run was technically complicated, combining a number of different printing processes, including lithography, screen print, and relief (woodcut). Silver metallic plastic film was collaged on the surface of the print, and areas of the image are also embossed. The work was produced in an edition of 68 with 16 artist proofs.
Print Matters: The Kenneth E. Tyler Gift, Tate, 2004
Mary Lee Corlett, The Prints of Roy Lichtenstein: A Catalogue Raisonné 1948-1993, New York 1994, pp.40, 121, 300, reproduced p.223 in colour
Roy Lichtenstein, exhibition catalogue, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, 1993