Roy Lichtenstein’s Six Still Lifes of 1974 manifest a colourful excursion into the diverse history of the still life genre. Each composition in this bright six part sequence is predicated on the aesthetic legacies 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. Historically, these paintings would capture the essence of a period through allegorical depictions of inanimate objects. Despite offering sublime scenes of prosperity and temporality, the genre was often dismissed as a creative exercise.
Lichtenstein embraces the decorative qualities of this artistic tradition, rendering his series according to a pronounced commercial aesthetic. Still Life With Portraitfollows the conventional layout of classical still lifes, framing a figurative interior with a frilly curtain and the ear of a pitcher. The portrait of a grinning woman is hung on the wall, reminiscent of a glamour shot. A bowl of fruit, contrastively minimalist, is situated on the table in the foreground of the work.
There is an immediacy to this print, an unmistakable ‘what you see, is what you get’ quality. Lichtenstein presents his own rendition of a still life, and while he employs a historically accurate structure, he executes the print entirely in the manner of modern art.