A pioneer of American Pop Art, Roy Lichtenstein broke with the artistic traditions of the past and found inspiration in the mass-produced visual imagery of 1960s mass media. Challenging traditional distinctions between fine art and popular culture, he initially used consumer advertising and comic books as his source material. His dialogue with art history and the act of painting formed an important focal point throughout his career.
In his 1992 Water Lilies, Lichtenstein reinterprets impressionist Claude Monet’s “Nymphéas” paintings, using his unique vernacular of stylistic motifs. The series exemplifies Lichtenstein’s experimental approach to materials and his long-held interest in translating the formal qualities of reflections.
Water Lilies with Cloud is one of the most intricate and dynamic pieces in the Water Lilies series. The dense composition incorporates thick diagonal lines, swirly patterns and Ben Day dots in saturated colours. Lichtenstein’s forms suggest vegetation and wood grain as well as the rippled and refracted surface of the water. Similar to Water Lilies with Japanese Bridge of the same series, the artist here plays with perspective. His placement of flat layered forms makes it possible to read the image from above and beneath the surface of the water. The juxtaposition of organic subject matter rendered in Lichtenstein’s ‘machine-made’ aesthetic encourages the viewer to look anew at the formal way an image is constructed.