Toni Clayton, American Pop & Modern Specialist
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While 2022 marked an exceptional year for the Pop Art market in its entirety, Roy Lichtenstein's market has shown particularly strong value growth in the last 24 months. Lichtenstein's mature market has continued to prove a classic long term investment, his market size steadily increasing by 36% since 2017. Moving forward into 2023, Lichtenstein's prints remain stable investments, and a desirable opportunity to enter the thriving Pop Art market.
Download our complete 2023 Print Market Report here, to explore expert opinions on the prints and multiples market over the last five years.
Inspired by comic-books and advertisements, Lichtenstein quickly established himself as one of the key pillars of the Pop Art movement. Lichtenstein's prints are ubiquitous and enduring, and have therefore attracted record prices at auction for decades. Between 2022-2017 alone, the average sale price of Lichtenstein's prints has grown by 32%. The Lichtenstein market is steadily expanding, making his captivating prints a desirable investment for Pop Art collectors in 2023.
Here are Lichtenstein's top 10 most investable prints:
No work typifies the nature of Lichtenstein's market better than Explosion, a 1969 lithograph executed as part of Portfolio 9. The print is a quintessential example of Lichtenstein's comic-book inspired oeuvre, with his distinct use of Ben Day dots and a graphic approach to so-called ”fine art”.
The work unites Lichtenstein's fascination with contemporary mass media, and his preoccupation with war after spending several years in the army. Explosions are a recurring motif in Lichtenstein's oeuvre, as we see in Whaam! and As I Opened Fire, but no work has increased in value as tremendously as Explosion. The value growth of this work supersedes Lichtenstein's other works by a wide margin, increasing by approx. 570% since 2017.
Coming in second place for Lichtenstein's most investable print is I Love Liberty (AP). Within this work, Lichtenstein transforms the infamous statue of liberty into one of his comic-book heroines. The print was produced in lieu of a national television broadcast championing American ideals and values. Much like the Pop Art of Andy Warhol, this print distinctly salutes American culture by reimagining this national landmark and icon. The print has experienced great value growth in the past five years, increasing by approx. 380%.
While Lichtenstein's oeuvre is largely informed by the print culture of his time, Still Life With Picasso is a work influenced by art history. This screen print, which forms part of a limited edition of 90, was produced as Lichtenstein's contribution to a portfolio titled Homage to Picasso. To the right of the composition is a figure which mimic's Picasso's Cubist drawing style, gazing towards a jug filled with paint brushes which are shaded with Ben Day dots. The print playfully unites Cubism and Pop, and visualises Lichtenstein's mechanisation of art. Since 2017, the print has experienced approx. 275% value growth, making it one of the most investable prints in Lichtenstein's market.
From his 1970 Modern Head series, Modern Head #3 is one of the greatest expressions of Lichtenstein's ’impure’ style. Within this series, Lichtenstein took a critical approach to the tenets of modern art, and Modern Head #3 is the most Constructivist work in the series. The monochromatic work reduces a human portrait to mechanical elements, and reflects the artist's desire to critically dismantle the history of modern art. This Formalist relief print has experienced approx. 230% value growth over the last five years.
Modern Print is another of Lichtenstein's most abstract works. Against a red and blue Ben Day dot background, a geometric shape forms an abstract pattern. Like his later Modern Head series, the print is informed by Cubism and Constructivism, and marks a point of departure from Lichtenstein's earlier work inspired by comic-books and advertisements. The abstract print forms part of an edition of 200, and has grown in value by approx. 210% since 2017.
Created shortly after his Bulls series, Cow Going Abstract is a continuation of Lichtenstein's fascination with Holstein Friesian cattle. The three-part print documents the transformation of a bull from figuration to abstraction. The work is typical of Lichtenstein's work in the mid-1970s, and his turn towards abstraction as his practice matured. The triptych print is one of Lichtenstein's most investable, and has realised approx. 205% value growth since 2017.
Lichtenstein's Brushstroke is a work loaded with art historical satire. Part of his prolific investigation of the brushstroke motif, incorporating painting and sculpture, this print highlights the mechanisation of ’fine art’ in the age of modernity. In this particular work, a yellow and black ’brushstroke’ is printed against a blue Ben Day dot background - revealing how the printing press has replaced the traditional role of the artist. The work is a shrewd irony of Abstract Expressionism, which saw the artist's brushstroke as being driven by personal expression. Lichtenstein's Brushstroke is devoid of emotion, and therefore makes a mockery of the genre. This culturally significant work has experienced approx. 175% growth in value in the past five years.
The human hand is one of the oldest subjects in art history, and has been an enduring symbol of manmade creation for centuries. In Study Of Hands, Lichtenstein provides us with four hands, all executed in different styles. Among these there is a cartoonish hand, a Cubist hand, an Expressionist hand, and a Pop hand typical of Lichtenstein's early style. As the title of the work would suggest, the print is a showcase of Lichtenstein's versatility as an artist, depicting the recognisable form of the hand from figuration to abstraction. Since 2017, this unusual print in Lichtenstein's oeuvre has grown in value by approx. 140%.
Pyramid is a unique work in Lichtenstein's oeuvre, straddling the media of print making and sculpture. Though the Pyramid was executed by screen printing, the typical media of Pop Art, Lichtenstein assembled these four reinforced prints to make a three-dimensional printed structure. As is typical of Lichtenstein's entire body of work, the print makes us question what art is in the age of mass production. This innovative print has experienced approx. 130% value growth in the past five years.
Though Lichtenstein is perhaps best known for his comic book heroines, Haystack is one of his most acclaimed works and a crucial piece of art history. The Pop print is an appropriation of Claude Monet's Haystack paintings of 1891, which are considered some of the most seminal works of early modern art. In Lichtenstein's iteration of the subject, the haystack is reduced to two colours and is composed of graphic lines and Ben Day dots. This work is fundamental to Lichtenstein's oeuvre, and has grown in value by approx. 125% since 2017.
Find out more about Roy Lichtenstein prints as alternative investment assets in our Ultimate Print Market Report.