Roy Lichtenstein completed his eight-part multimedia sequence entitled Paintings in 1984. The elaborate prints in this series not only prove his outstanding talent as a print maker, but also demonstrate his innovative conceptual range. Lichtenstein’s Paintings series exhibit fictitious picture frames as their central motif.
Painting In A Gold Frame showcases the left bottom corner of a classic gold frame, mounted on a wall adorned by black and yellow stripes. Lichtenstein’s intricate composition reveals hand-painted, as well as machine-made patterns. As such, schematic dark green and cream cartoon strokes intersect the painterly pastel sweeps on the canvas. Painting In A Gold Frame juxtaposes the artist’s own comic book shapes with the appropriated brushwork of the abstract expressionists. Lichtenstein’s concurrent Seven Apple Woodcuts and later Brushstroke Faces achieve similar imitations of the emotive manner of Abstract Expressionism.
Painting In A Gold Frame evokes a surprising layer of self-parody. The interwoven pigments induce spatial ambiguity, emphasising the flatness of Lichtenstein’s detached graphics. The vague dimensions are further enforced by partial cropping, bringing the viewer’s attention to the object quality of the print. Ultimately, Lichtenstein undermines the idea of artistic originality in this work, by presenting an image that is also the representation of another image.