In the mid-1960s, Roy Lichtenstein put his renowned comic book motifs on hold. Instead, the artist began exploring the formal qualities of landscape painting. He worked on his vast Landscapes, Moonscapes and Seascapes for over three decades. As part of this extensive project, Lichtenstein completed several autonomous portfolios.
Ten Landscapes was created in 1967. The ten-part suite transforms landscapes into brilliant superimpositions of colours and shapes. Landscape I is a calculated portrait of a bright yellow desert. Preparatory drawings and layered stencils ensure the print’s graphic finish.
The work relies exclusively on Lichtenstein’s characteristic formal vocabulary of defined contours, dense patterns, and vibrant pigments. As such, the sky above the sandy wasteland is constituted by a two-colour printed field populated by black and red dots. The upper half of the print has a stark white cut out of an abstracted cloud pasted over it.
Despite its simplistic composition, Landscape I has a potent, almost fauvist, visual impact. The landscape seeks out familiar forms and condenses them into pure associations. In doing so, it speaks first and foremost to the beholder’s predetermined knowledge of the subject matter. The work ultimately conjures an alternative reality, similar to the dreamscapes of Lichtenstein’s later Surrealist series.