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.
Similar to Two Paintings: Green Lampof the same series, Two Paintings: Sleeping Muse juxtaposes two imaginary portraits mounted on a striped wall. A cubist illustration of a green plant with a sculptural head is depicted on the left. Its disposition recalls Lichtenstein’s Six Still Lifesof the early 1970s. Meanwhile, the frame on the right exhibits expressive grey brushstrokes, intersected by yellow, green and white cartoon sweeps. Lichtenstein explores similar abstract expressionist arrangements in his Seven Apple Woodcuts and subsequent Brushstroke Faces.
The irony of this print is mainly established through the thematic comparison of the painterly gestures and the schematic imagery. It is further enforced by the cropping of forms, which asserts the object quality of the work. Lichtenstein aligns the artistic tradition of autographic mark making with the detached qualities of comic books. He frames both depictions as masterpieces, achieving an added connotation of self-parody. Ultimately, the artist undermines the notion of artistic originality by presenting an image that is also a representation of other images.