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|Dimensions||81.3 cm × 81.3 cm (32.0 in × 32.0 in)|
Golf Ball (sometimes Golfball) is a 1962 painting by Roy Lichtenstein. It is considered to fall within the art movement known as Pop art. It depicts "a single sphere with patterned, variously directional semi-circular grooves." The work is commonly associated with black-and-white Piet Mondrian works. It is one of the works that was presented at Lichtenstein's first solo exhibition and one that was critical to his early association with pop art. The work is commonly critiqued for its tension involving a three-dimensional representation in two dimensions with much discussion revolving around the choice of a background nearly without any perspective.
When Lichtenstein had his first solo show at the Leo Castelli Gallery in February 1962, it sold out before opening. Golf Ball was one of the works that Lichtenstein exhibited. Later, Lichtenstein included Golf Ball in Still Life with Goldfish Bowl, 1972, and Go for Baroque, 1979. The painting exemplifies the novel superimposition of abstraction and figuration. The work also represents abstraction as a result of elimination of three-dimensionality, chiaroscuro and a landscape context.
The use of black and white is regarded as dramatic, and although it may have been influenced by 1940s and 1950s works of Willem de Kooning, Franz Kline and Robert Motherwell, it is more likely a commentary on Mondrian's 1917 Composition in Black and White. Alternatively, it may have been a reference to another of Mondrian's Pre-World War I black and white oval paintings, such as Pier and ocean, 1915. This complementary source art was common of Lichtenstein's 1960s work on frequently advertised objects. Lichtenstein describes his sources as Mondrian Plus and Minus paintings.
In 1962, Lichtenstein produced several works in which he depicted "...the repetitive regularity of their patterned surfaces..." Golf Ball is a depiction of a golf ball using a Mondrianesque set of black and white arcs to depict the three-dimensionality of the subject. However, the neutral background manipulates the image and diminishes the volumetric characteristics by stripping the viewer of his perspective. It is described as a "pure graphic mark on a gray ground" as well as a "totality of abstract marks." Lichtenstein described Golf Ball as "the antithesis of what was thought of as having 'art meaning'" because of its lack of perspective.
Golf Ball is an example of the emerging "confident authority" of his single-image paintings with its "Rock of Gibraltar-like thereness". The "frontal and centralized presentation"'s directness lacked the sophistication to market the images of household goods for advertising but was considered daring artistically. The black and white painting on a grey background challenges both the natural perception of realism and the boundaries of abstraction. The work "gives us both the impression of space and the fact of surface".
Golf Ball was one of the bases by which "critics aligned him with other practitioners of Pop Art", although much is made about the painting's references to abstract painting, especially its likeness to Mondrian's works. Furthermore, the painting leverages tensions regarding three-dimensional representation in two dimensions resulting from spatial ambiguities caused by the lack of cues in the background.
Diane Waldman refers to the subject of Golf Ball as a freestanding form. This is one of the figures in which Lichtenstein demonstrates his draftsman experience. This work demonstrated his maturation as an artist with standardized contours that present uniformity and solidified inflections. This is a strong example of presenting the tension of volumetric potential balanced against two-dimensional presentation. It also shows how placement against a neutral background diminishes three-dimensionality. Despite Lichtenstein's techniques to display/minimize dimensionality, the viewer imposes his or her own visualization experiences on the painting, which minimizes the effect of spatial illusion.
- Lippard, Lucy R. (1970). "New York Pop". Pop Art (third printing ed.). Praeger Publishers. p. 125.
- Tomkins, Calvin (1988). Roy Lichtenstein: Mural With Blue Brushstroke. Harry N. Abrams, Inc. p. 25. ISBN 0-8109-2356-4.
His first show at Castelli's, in February 1962, was sold out before the opening. Prices were ridiculous by current standards—$1,000 for Blam, $1,200 for Engagement Ring, $800 for The Refrigerator. The purchasers were Richard Brown Baker, Giuseppe Panza, Robert Scull— people who had helped to make the market for Abstract Expressionism and who were becoming in the 1960s a major factor in contemporary art...
- Madoff, Steven Henry, ed. (1997). "Focus: The Major Artists". Pop Art: A Critical History. University of California Press. p. 198. ISBN 0-520-21018-2.
Yes. The first show was very diverse. I did the Roto-Broil; the Engagement Ring; a round picture The Cat, which I got from a cat food package; the Golf Ball, which was a single object i black and white; In, which was just letters; and Soda, which is blue and white.
- Waldman 1993, Still Lifes: 1972–76, pp. 206–7, 216–7
- Mercurio, Gianni (2010). Roy Lichtenstein: Meditations 0n Art. SKIRA. p. 60. ISBN 978-88-572-0460-4.
Good examples of just how abstraction and figuration were superimposed to propose fresh solutions are Lichtenstein's Golf Ball (1962) and Ball of Twine (1963). The golf ball, even though reduced to a pure graphic mark on a gray ground, the result of a treatment that eliminates chiaroscuro, and still recognizable, is also a totality of abstract marks. (Its formal assonance with a grid has been pointed out at various times, particularly with the "more or less" Mondrrian oval works, these too painted in black and white.)
- Mercurio, Gianni (2010). Roy Lichtenstein: Meditations 0n Art. SKIRA. p. 61. ISBN 978-88-572-0460-4.
Golf Ball and Ball of Twine highlight how the more an image is synthesized by eliminating its three-dimensionality, chiaroscuro and a landscape context, the more it takes on the characteristics of abstraction.)
- Waldman 1993, Cliches into Icons: Early Pop Pictures, p. 29-31 "Lichtenstein's dramatic use of black and white is also a feature of subsequent paintings such as Golf Ball, 1962, and may be related to the black-and-white paintings created by Abstract Expressionists Willem de Kooning, Franz Kline, Robert Motherwell, and others in the 1940s and 1950s. More to the point, perhaps, Lichtenstein chose this image to comment on the work of Mondrian (see fig. 32), which was of interest to him at the time. Here, Lichtenstein emulated Mondrian's reductive style and translated the Dutch artist's system of simple plus and minus forms into his own series of signs, breaking down the common object of a golf ball into a collection of hooked marks surrounded by a bold black outline."
- Hendrickson 1993, The Pictures That Lichtenstein made Famous, or The Pictures that Made Lichtenstein Famous, pp. 25–26 The small cusps and ellipses indicating the pores of its surface make it recognizable as a three-dimensional object, but they are also a play on abstract signs. For someone familiar with modern art, the formally related oval paintings of Piet Mondrian from before the First World War (Ill. p. 26) may come to mind. Yet there are also parallels with contemporary art. The simultaneous reduction of subject and inflation of scale in Golfball shares the humorous effect of Claes Oldenburg's sculputre.
- Lichtenstein, Roy (2009). "A Review of My Work Since 1961—A Slide Presentation". In Bader, Graham. Roy Lichtenstein: October Files. The MIT Press. p. 60. ISBN 978-0-262-51231-2.
Golf Ball (1962), a painting of a single object, is intended to remind one of a Mondrian Plus and Minus painting. A single object unrelated to any ground was probably the antithesis of what was thought of as having 'art meaning.' If you think of these marks as a golf ball, you have formed this object in your mind. My emphasis was in forming the relationship of mark-to-mark.
- Hendrickson1993, The Pictures That Lichtenstein made Famous, or The Pictures that Made Lichtenstein Famous, p. 46
- Waldman, Diane (1969). Roy Lichtenstein. The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation. p. 15.
Golf Ball, 1962 is composed of a series of black and white arcs that form an abstract pattern reminiscent of Mondrian’s plus and minus system. At the same time, by means of their placement, these black and white lines conform to the shape of a three-dimensional object. But the placement of the golf ball on a neutral ground once again neutralizes the object as a volumetric form. This manipulation of the two and three dimensional is one that the artist obviously relishes for he returns to it repeatedly.
- Alloway, Lawrence (1983). Roy Lichtenstein. Abbeville Press. pp. 18–19. ISBN 0-89659-331-2.
Some of Lichtenstein's paintings of 1962 maintain the hesitant, exploratory character of 1961, but others display a confident authority. This is particularly evident in the single-image paintings, which take on a Rock of Gibraltar-like thereness, and in the paintings from war comics, which have a clarity and elaboration in advance of the comparatively constrained romance subjects. It is in these works that Lichtenstein demonstrated his sense of pictorial completeness, a constituent of his mature art, for the first time. One step was to standardize the contour, so that the lines around objects became more uniform, solidifying the inflections that remained in 1961 from his painterly days.
- Livingstone, Marco (1990). Pop Art: A Continuing History. Harry N. Abrams. ISBN 0-8109-3707-7.
The frontal and centralized presentation employed by Lichtenstein in early pairings of domestic objects, such as Roto Broil and Electric Cord of 1961 and Golf Ball (1962), was of such assertive directness that it would have been dismissed in contemporary advertising as too crude and unsophisticated. In the context of painting, however, this projection of an image so as to be instantly apprehended as a whole – as a perceptual pattern or structure that in psychological terms would be labelled a Gestalt – was daring in its austere simplicity, anticipating the Minimalism of the mid 1960s. Together with an emphasis on the surface as a flat pattern of dots, brightly coloured shapes and black outlines, this fixing of the image to the centre stressed the painting as a static object.
- Foster, Hal (2010). Francis, Mark, ed. Pop. Phaidon. p. 26. ISBN 978-0-7148-5663-6.
Thus Lichtenstein seemed to challenge the oppositions on which pure painting was founded: high versus low, fine versus commercial, even abstract versus figurative. Consider Golf Ball (1962), a circle outlined and dimpled in black on white – to signify shadow and light – on a light grey ground. A golf ball is a prime object of suburban banality, but here it also recalls the pristine plus-and-minus abstractions Mondrian painted forty-five years before. On one hand, the near abstraction of Golf Ball tests our sense of realism, which Lichtenstein shows to be a conventional code, a matter of signs that sometimes possess only scant resemblance to actual things in the other world. On the other hand, when a Mondrian begins to look like a golf ball, then the category of abstraction is surely in trouble too.
- Foster, Hal (2010). Francis, Mark, ed. Pop. Phaidon. p. 27. ISBN 978-0-7148-5663-6.
- Lobel, Michael (2003). "Pop according To Lichtenstein". In Holm, Michael Juul; Tøjner, Poul Erik; Caiger-Smith, Martin. Roy Lichtenstein: All About Art. Louisiana Museum of Modern Art. p. 84. ISBN 87-90029-85-2.
...it was through paintings like...Golf Ball...that critics aligned him with other practitioners of Pop Art...Many of his paintings of objects veer toward abstraction, whether Golf Ball's radiating fields of arcs enclosed within a circular form...In this way these works often make reference to the traditions of abstract painting. For instance, critics have long noted that the arcing lines of Golf Ball bear more than a passing resemblance to the distinctive forms used in Piet Mondrian's plus-and-minus paintings. Taking on some of the central concerns of modern abstraction, Lichtenstein often sets up in these paintings visual tension between figure and ground. For example, Golf Ball offers a veritable oscillation between the figural resolution of the object and its dissolution into the blank ground, in part because the white of the ball is the same as that of the background. In other words, although we tend to perceive the depicted image as an object – in this case, a golf ball – at the same time we are aware of it as an utterly flat field of abstracted marks.
- Waldman, Diane (1999). Roy Lichtenstein: Reflections. Electa. p. 25. ISBN 88-435-7287-3.
- Waldman 1993, Cliches into Icons: Early Pop Pictures, p. 28 "Lichtenstein's experience as a draftsman is reflected in his spare presentation of kitchen stoves, washing machines, bathroom interiors, golf balls, ice cream sodas, cherry pies, hot dogs, sneakers, socks, etc. and in his highly enlarged depictions of such domestic rituals as wiping, spraying, and sponging (see, for example, Golf Ball, Bathroom, Washing Machine, The Refrigerator, Spray, and Sponge II..."
- Waldman 1993, Cliches into Icons: Early Pop Pictures, p. 33 "Both Black Flowers and Golf Ball are successful examples of this dialectic. In Black Flowers, the artist unified his imagery by means of the Benday-dot screen, whereas in Golf Ball bare areas of canvas unite figure and field. This ambiguity between two-dimensional and three-dimensional is one that he obviously relishes, for he has returned to it repeatedly."
- Steven Henry, Madoff, ed. (1997). "Focus: The Major Artists". Pop Art: A Critical History. University of California Press. p. 208. ISBN 0-520-21018-2.
Golf Ball, 1962, is composed of a series of black and white arcs that form an abstract pattern reminiscent of Mondrian's plus and minus system. At the same time, by means of their placement, the black and white lines conform to the shape of a three-dimensional object. But the placement of the golf ball on a neutral ground once again neutralizes the object as a volumetric form. This manipulation of the two and three dimensional is one that the artist obviously relishes for he returns to it repeatedly.
- Waldman 1993, Comic Strips and Advertising Images, p. 47 "Single-object paintings such as Golf Ball (fig. 31), 1962, suggest spatial illusion largely by virtue of their subject. We know that a galf ball is three-dimensional, and so most of us project the additional dimension onto such a two-dimensional image even though it may not be depicted in that manner. We bring to the image our knowledge of the object as an entity that occupies a particular, concrete space."
- Golf Ball at the Lichtenstein Foundation website