Roy Lichtenstein’s highly innovative Entablature series of the 1970s combines complex screen printed and lithographed areas, embossed with glossy and matte metal foils. This limited and signed edition of 18 prints presents a richly textured illusionistic play on 20th century American architecture.
Armed with a camera, Roy Lichtenstein captured cast iron and concrete ornaments all over Lower Manhattan in the 1970s. His chosen facades were distinctly American and industrialised imitations of classical architecture. He considered them to be imbued with the same forces of replication and standardisation, as he himself had been exploring through his own artworks.
Between 1970 and 1976, the artist snapped photographs of a variety of classical facade decorations. He primarily focused on the cornice, frieze and architrave components found on architectural columns. These three elements make up a so-called entablature. The artist based two series of paintings on the topic, culminating in the production of eleven technologically advanced prints in 1976.
Entablature X exhibits a combination of highly polished greyish blue, cream and silver coloured details. Letters located in the very centre of the composition spell out the word “Justitia”, alluding to the ancient Roman personification of justice.
Taking pre-existing signs as his subject matter, Lichtenstein in this series demonstrates that architecture, much like art, borrows from the past with the intention of enforcing the order of the present. He exposes the false iconicity of these grand motifs situated all around society, reflecting on the imperialist sentiment 20th century American architecture stands for.