Roy Lichtenstein’s Six Still Lifes of 1974 manifest a colourful excursion into the diverse legacies of the still life genre. Each composition in this bright six part sequence is predicated on the artistic style of 20th century modern masters.
Although still life painting has been practiced since ancient times, its particular mode of representation has never ranked highest in the hierarchy of art. Despite offering sublime scenes of prosperity and temporality, the genre was often dismissed as a creative exercise. Lichtenstein embraces its decorative qualities, rendering his Six Still Lifes according to a pronounced commercial aesthetic.
Historically, still lifes would provide the public with allegorical depictions of cultural values and social class. Items revealing the importance of sea trade were common in these paintings, as nations depended on imports and exports.
Lichtenstein’s Lobster introduces a crowded tabletop, situated in the midst of a figurative seaside setting, enhanced by a notably fauvist colour palette. Lobster’s symbolism ponders the contradictory social status of those who provide, versus those who consume in a community. As such, the bright red lobster on the table, suggestive of leisure, is counterbalanced by a fisherman's yellow net in the background, indicative of labour.