Roy Lichtenstein’s Entablature series of the 1970s marks the peak of material experimentation and technical complexity in the artist’s career. The works draw from photographs depicting the midday facades of 20th century New York. The inventive processes and techniques employed in the Entablature prints offer abstracted versions of ornamental motifs, encountered by the artist around Lower Manhattan.
The Entablature prints first and foremost exhibit an intersecting perspective between art and architecture. Multilayered in its formal and conceptual references, the series demonstrates a unique emphasis on surface texture.
The Entablatures embrace Lichtenstein’s artistic concerns regarding reproduction and abstraction. The artist explored similar prominent themes in his earlier Haystack series and Bulls series. Moreover, his continuing fascination with the replication of cultural institutions can be detected in his Cathedral series, created a few years prior.
Entablature Xa applies grey, black and silver coloured details that spell out the word “Justitia” in the centre of the composition, alluding to the ancient Roman personification of justice. The work is elongated and thin, drawing a physical analogy to the original architectural features it was predicated on. The horizontal flow of the ornamentation is also suggestive of such a parallel, implying that the pattern continues beyond the printed sheet.