Roy Lichtenstein’s A Bright Night from his Surrealist series of the late 1970s is a testament to the artist’s expert knowledge of modern art. The absurd dreamscapes in this sequence manifest his most visually intricate works to date. This 1978 colour lithograph on Arches 88 wove paper is part of a signed and limited edition of 38 prints.
The power of Roy Lichtenstein’s art lies in his critical, yet humorous approach to his subject matter. Venturing beyond Pop Art, the artist’s take on the thematic concerns of avant-garde movements is remarkable in his Surrealist series. Executed in the late 1970s, the sequence is a testament to Lichtenstein’s knowledgeable and inventive artistic nature.
A Bright Night condenses the attributes of landscape painting and surrealist iconography into one frame, relaying a particular type of formal unity. However, Lichtenstein’s application of graphic forms and vibrant colours perpetuates the mechanical vision of a printed reproduction. What truly distinguishes this work is that it integrates the artist’s own oeuvre with art history. The print reintroduces the pop icon’s characteristic motifs but presents them in unexpected ways.
Firstly, Lichtenstein’s protruding geometric shapes appear in the background of the work, preceding his Perfect/Imperfect series of the 1980s. The amorphous main character in the centre has no body but her face recalls the emotional charge of the artist’s 1960s cartoon heroines. Situated in the midst of one of Lichtenstein’s experimental landscapes, this work is the conceptual forerunner of The New Fall of America suite from the 1990s. Additionally, the print also integrates icons borrowed from the American Indian series of the late 1970s.