In 1991, Allen Ginsberg, the seminal poet of the Beats generation, asked Roy Lichtenstein to create illustrations for La Nouvelle Chute de l'Amérique, a French edition of his book of poetry. For this project, Lichtenstein used cut-outs of printed and hand-painted paper to design ten collages that were then transformed into etchings and acquaints.
Bayonne En Entrant Dans NYC depicts, what Ginsberg called in the poem of the same title, a ‘megapolis with burning factories’. The print is composed predominantly from overlapping paper strips that run disjointedly across the print, evoking the hustle of urban life. Triangles and squares are shapes that dominate the image against the background constituted by Lichtenstein’s trademark stripes. The abundant use of geometric figures and disorienting perspective created by the overlapping paper strips bring to mind the artist’s earlier series, such as Imperfect (1986), and points to the likes of Donald Judd and Kenneth Noland as a source of artistic inspiration.
With tall factory towers and clouds of smoke looming in the background, Bayonne En Entrant Dans NYC offers a playful yet gritty take on Ginsberg’s poetic vision of a bustling city. Considering the attachment of Lichtenstein’s name to pop art, the work also attests to the versatility of the creative practice that follows his most famous paintings of the early 1960s.