Following the acclaim of his first comic-inspired artworks, Roy Lichtenstein immersed himself in the boundless well of art history. The landscape genre was one topic he returned to with regularity. The artist dedicated over thirty years of his career to expanding his Landscapes, Moonscapes and Seascapes. The vast sequence contains numerous individual editions of prints.
Sunrise from 1965 uses Lichtenstein's iconic pop aesthetic to define the pictorial space of an early morning oceanscape. The work combines the elementary attributes of landscape painting with the artist’s interest in unified imagery. Sunrise’s minimalist sun emerges steadily from behind the boldly defined horizon line. The rays are demarcated by pale yellow bands of colour constrained within thick blue borders. The entire backdrop of the print is populated by red, white and blue Ben-Day dots, offering the optical sensation of hazy skies.
The white core of the sun is the focal point of the work, as it sustains the rest of the canvas. Meanwhile, illustrated passages of defined clouds add a sense of solidity to the upper half of the composition. Lichtenstein contrasts the light that radiates from the centre against the shadows folded between the waves. His rendition of a sunrise is a witty, contemporary nod to the motif’s art historical precedents.