Big Painting No. 6
|Dimensions||235 cm × 330 cm (92.5 in × 129 in)|
|Location||Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf|
Big Painting No. 6 (sometimes Big Painting or Big Painting VI) is a 1965 oil and Magna on canvas painting by Roy Lichtenstein. Measuring 235 cm × 330 cm (92.5 in × 129 in), it is part of the Brushstrokes series of artworks that includes several paintings and sculptures whose subject is the actions made with a house-painter's brush. It set a record auction price for a painting by a living American artist when it sold for $60,000 in 1970. The painting is in the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen collection.
As with all of his Brushstrokes works, it is in part a satirical response to the gestural painting of Abstract Expressionism. Like most of Lichtenstein's Ben-Day dots works it is a depiction of mechanical reproduction via painterly technique. In this case, the satire comes from the depiction of the graphical depiction of the spontaneous painting motion in painstaking painterly detail.
In early 1970, Andy Warhol established the record auction price for a painting by a living American artist with a $60,000 (US$364,370 in 2014 dollars) sale of Big Campbell's Soup Can with Torn Label (Vegetable Beef) (1962), which is part of the Campbell's Soup Cans series, in a sale at Parke-Bernet, the preeminent American auction house of the day (later acquired by Sotheby's). This record was broken in November 1970 by Lichtenstein's Big Painting No. 6 with an auction sale for $75,000 (US$455,463 in 2014 dollars) to German art dealer Rudolf Zwirner.
The source for the entire Brushstrokes series was Charlton Comics' Strange Suspense Stories 72 (October 1964) by Dick Giordano. Big Painting No. 6 is in the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen collection in Düsseldorf.
This painting has a Ben-Day dots background with four layered vigorous brushstrokes atop them in white, yellow, green, and red. The focal point is the topmost central red brushstroke that depicts dripping paint. The black contours contribute a dynamic effect to the two-dimensional work. The subject of the painting is the process of Abstract Expressionist painting via sweeping brushstrokes and drips, but the result of Lichtenstein's simplification that uses a Ben-Day dots background is a representation of the mechanical/industrial color printing reproduction. Big Painting No. 6 is depicts imitations of what could be typical Abstract Expressionist brushstrokes on an extremely large scale. Since it is depicted as a reproduction of an imitation the painting is two steps removed from an original. While each Abstract Expressionist brushstroke is an instantaneous effort, the satire includes the fact that Lichtenstein took a great deal of time to achieve the complicated reproduction.
Big Painting No. 6. is a prime example of his works that both turned a mundane household task into a planned artistic operation and made a time-consuming task appear as if it was produced mechanically in an instant. The painting is regarded as an example of his subtle humor expressed as "gestural swathes rendered in commercial harshness as a parody of action painting."
According to Robert Rosenblum, by confronting the state of the art world, Lichtenstein reinforces its vitality: "...the vocabulary of Abstract Expressionism, attacked implicitly in Lichtenstein's earlier work, now becomes the explicit subject. With disarming paradox, the impulsive, athletic smears and spatterings of the 1950s are here impersonally hardened and industrialized by being seen through Lichtenstein's lens of commercial imagery. The results are not only witty in their use of art to comment about art, but even revive, most ironically, the pictorial energy and boldness of the style being parodied."
He uses overlapping forms rather than a single form or distinct adjacent forms, which seems to create a more dynamic feel to the shallow space. However, since Lichtenstein does not uses shading or contrast, the monochromatic strokes with just bold black outlines are void of certain elements of depth. Big Painting No. 6 and Yellow and Green Brushstrokes go one step further in terms of canvas size and dynamic activity that was presented earlier in Little Big Painting.
Big Painting No. 6 is the result of producing "...whiplash, abstract expressionis works with his quasi-mechanical means..." Lichtenstein's form of Abstract Expressionism uses a "quasi-mechanical" method to conform "the spontaneous, loaded brushstroke to his own comic-strip and Ben Day formula". One critic considers that Lichtenstein has converted the wide dripping brush strokes into a tidy work representing mass production.
- Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–2014. Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Retrieved February 27, 2014.
- Bourdon, David (1989). Warhol. Harry N. Abrams, Inc. p. 307. ISBN 0-8109-1761-0.
- Hahn, Susan (1970-11-19). "Record Prices for Art Auction at New York Auction". Lowell Sun. p. 29. Retrieved 2012-05-12.
- Foster, Hal (2010). Francis, Mark, ed. Pop. Phaidon. p. 150. ISBN 978-0-7148-5663-6. "Begun in the autumn of 1965, Lichtenstein's series of Brushstroke paintings was initiated after he saw a cartoon in Charlton Comics' Strange Suspense Stories. 72 (October 1964). One scene shows an exhausted yet relieved artist who has just completed a painting. This depicts two massive brushstrokes that take up the entire surface area. The absurdity of using a small paintbrush to create an image of two monumental brushstrokes was explored in many different variations. Transforming an expressive act that was mythologized for its immediacy and primal origins into a cartoon-like, mechanically produced-lookiing image. Lichtenstein created a reflexive commentary on gestural painting."
- "Strange Suspense Stories #72". Lichtenstein Foundation. Retrieved 2012-05-25.
- "Roy Lichtenstein: Big Painting No 6 , 1965". Virtual Museum of Modernism NRW. nrw-museum.de. Retrieved 2012-05-12.
- Selz, Peter (1981). "The 1960s: Painting". Art In Our Times: A Pictorial History 1890–1980. Harry N. Abrams, Inc. pp. 454–455. ISBN 0-8109-1676-2. "The process of painting is the subject matter in Roy Lichtenstein's Big Painting No. 6. This painting refers to the popular conception of Abstract Expressionist works: their large size broad brushstrokes, drips. But Lichtenstein's painting is all neat and clean. Since the simplification refers to printed color reproductions, Lichtenstein paints in the benday dots of the mechanical process. The affective content of an action painting is replaced by a painted image that, paradoxically, resembles an industrial product."
- Shanes, Eric (2009). "The Plates". Pop Art. Parkstone Press International. p. 125. ISBN 978-1-84484-619-1. "Here Lichtenstein emulated the appearance of four typical Abstract Expressionistic brushstrokes, complete with drips except that he did so on a vast scale in comparison with such marks in reality. He also set them against a background of Benday dots which brings into play the notion that we are not looking at an imitation of real brushstrokes, but at a reproduction of such an imitation. We are therefore two stages removed from the originals (and of course the reproduction in this book takes us yet another stage from that source). A further pictorial witticism arises from the fact that in their original form Abstract Expressionist brushstrokes would have been created in seconds, whereas Lichtenstein's marks took days to create because of their size, detailing and relative complexity."
- Livingstone, Marco (1990). Pop Art: A Continuing History. Harry N. Abrams. p. 204. ISBN 0-8109-3707-7. "In 1965–66 Lichtenstein painted a series of large canvases, such as Big Painting VI (1965), in which he parodied the sweeping brushstrokes made by Abstract Expressionists with house-painter's brushes. The double paradox was that of representing an apparently spontaneous mark by rendering it in graphic language as a series of painstaking operations, but making the result look so effortless and mechanical that it might all have been printed by a single touch. As immediate as their impact, legibility of image and humour as any of his comic-strip paintings, these pictures pose serious questions about the artistic process and in particular about the interaction of idea, invention and execution."
- Lippard, Lucy R. (1970). "New York Pop". Pop Art (third printing ed.). Praeger Publishers. p. 92. "But Lichtenstein's is also a difficult art in that his humour and use of the found image is unexpectedly subtle for its obstreperous vehicle: at times it is 'in' humour — based on references to friends or to other paintings. Examples are...or the 1965 Big Painting (Ill. 67), with the gestural swathes renered in commercial harshness as a parody of action painting."
- Rosenblum, Robert. Boatto, Alberto and Giordano Falzoni, ed. Lichtenstein (International ed.). Fantazaria. p. 110.
- Waldman. p. 161. "Little Big Painting is one of several paintings—of which other examples are the large canvas of the same year, Big Painting No. 6 (fig. 130), and the aforementioned Yellow and Green Brushstrokes— in which Lichtenstein uses overlapping forms rather than centering one form or placing two side by side." Missing or empty
- Waldman. p. 161. "This arrangement of dense, impacted forms creates the illusion of active shapes in a shallow space; but because they lack any sense of relief or depth and have been reduced to flat colors and a single bold outline, without any subtle contrasts between light and shade, they read as flat forms on a flat plane." Missing or empty
- Waldman. p. 161. "In Big Painting No. 6 and Yellow and Green Brushstrokes, Lichtenstein dramatically enlarged the size of the canvas and increased the dynamic activity that was so much a part of Little Big Painting." Missing or empty
- Arnason, H. H. (1977). History of Modern Art (second ed.). Prentice-Hall, Inc. p. 621. ISBN 0-13-390351-6.
- Arnason (1986), p. 458.
- Arnason (1986), p. 636.
- Selz, Peter (1981). "The 1960s: Painting". In Freeman, Phyllis. Art in Our Times: A Pictorial History 1890–1980. p. 454. ISBN 0-8109-1676-2. "The process of painting is the subject matter in Roy Lichtenstein's Big Painting No. 6. This painting refers to the popular conception of Abstract Expressionist works: their large size broad brushstrokes, drips. But Lichtenstein's painting is all neat and clean. Since the simplification refers to printed color reproductions, Lichtenstein paints in the benday dots of the mechanical process. The affective content of an Action Painting is replaced by a painted image that, paradoxically, resembles an industrial product."
- Arnason, H. H. (1986). History of Modern Art (third ed.). Prentice Hall, Inc./Harry N. Abrams, Inc. ISBN 0-13-390360-5.
- Waldman, Diane (1993). Roy Lichtenstein. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. ISBN 0-89207-108-7.