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 exhibit fictitious picture frames as their central motif.
The masterful composition of Two Paintings: Dagwood is perhaps the most complex and figurative edition of the series. Lichtenstein captures two imaginary paintings on either side of the canvas. Both are enveloped in black and white baroque style frames.The left-hand side is executed as a pastel imitation of the autographic brushwork of the abstract expressionists. Lichtenstein’s concurrent Seven Apple Woodcuts and later Brushstroke Faces pursue similar explorations of the painterly gestures of Abstract Expressionism.
Opposite, the artist inserts a dramatic comic book scene, appropriated from a 1930s cartoon named ‘Dagwood’. The distressed figure, clad in a black tuxedo and a red bowtie, is captured in the act of tumbling over. It is evident that Two Paintings: Dagwood parodies both fine and commercial modes of expression. Lichtenstein skillfully morphs the two portraits into one visually unified canvas. Ultimately, he seeks to undermine the notion of artistic originality in this print. As such, the work functions as an image in itself, while also being the representation of other images.