In the late 1970s, Roy Lichtenstein entered his remarkable absurdist period, inspired by the practices of Surrealism. Originating in the 1920s, surrealist artists delved into subconscious realities, stringing together peculiar types of imagery. Lichtenstein’s Surrealist series follows suit, merging disparate elements into impactful portraits.
Similar to At The Beach of the same series, Mermaid depicts an amorphous reclining female figure with a bright yellow ponytail. The shape of her body, composed entirely of red stripes, resembles a purist modern sculpture. A delicately illustrated palm tree stands guard behind her, while she drifts on open water. Sharply defined waves invade her contours, like sharks circling prey. The scene is illuminated by figurative rays of sunshine emanating from a lamp through the clouds above her head.
Mermaid’s diverse composition draws the viewer into the captivating realm of its formal mirage. Its vibrant primary colours and graphic forms perpetuate the unified vision of printed reproductions. Accordingly, this print transforms Lichtenstein’s appropriation of styles into the artist’s own polished pop aesthetic.
The print was created in conjunction with Lichtenstein's identical 1979 sculpture project for the Miami Beach Theater of the Performing Arts. The monumental outdoor installation is today exhibited in close proximity to the ocean.