One of the dominant notes of Lichtenstein’s late work is his fascination with the simplicity of Chinese art. In 1995 he returned to the landscape genre, creating more than 20 works in homage to the highly stylised paintings of the Song dynasty (960–1279 AD).
Given its emphasis on the calligraphic mark, luminous expanse and the relationship of man to nature, Chinese scroll painting offered both a challenge and a new direction for Lichtenstein’s technique, which reaches new heights of sophistication. In Landscape with Philosopher 1996, he engages with a more complex system of applying dots (in some paintings there are as many as 15 different sizes of dots) to convey the atmospheric quality and subtle gradations of the original Chinese landscapes.
Landscape with Boat 1996 reflects a moment of serene abstraction in the latter years of the artist’s life. As the illustrational aspects of his pop paintings start to recede, contour lines of figures fade away, and forms in space dissolve, Lichtenstein presents pure painterly delicacy in an almost cosmic vision true to the old Chinese masters he so admired.