Roy Lichtenstein’s Flowers from 1973 manifests a colourful cubist excursion into the diverse history of the still life genre. This bright collage of shapes is predicated on the aesthetic legacies of 20th century modern masters.
Lichtenstein embraces the decorative qualities of still lifes but renders his print according to a pronounced commercial aesthetic. The work is self-referential, incorporating the enlarged architectural fragments of the artist’s Entablatures as its backdrop. The print also serves as the inspiration for Lichtenstein’s subsequent Six Still Lifes of 1974.
Flowers employs an airy composition, presenting a modernised and unpolished version of a classical still life painting. The print primarily expands the meaning behind traditional motifs symbolising the temporality of existence. Lichtenstein situates his cubist rendition of a vase filled with vibrant red and yellow flowers in the middle of the canvas. The work’s fractured background is constituted by a mosaic of brilliant colours and rich patterns.
Bursting with bright stylised elements, Flowers delivers a masterful cartoon impression of its chosen subject matter. The work skillfully integrates the formal qualities of modern art with the mechanical properties of printing. Lichtenstein’s still life initiates a playful conversation between his own art and the creative heritage of the 20th century.