Roto Broil

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Roto Broil
Roto Broil.jpg
Artist Roy Lichtenstein
Year 1961
Movement Pop art
Dimensions 174 cm × 174 cm (68.5 in × 68.5 in)
Location Private collection

Roto Broil is a 1961 pop art painting by Roy Lichtenstein. It was one of the consumer goods paintings made in the early 1960s that "made a splash, sold well and immediately polarized the critics."[1]


The subject of Roto Broil comes from a packaging carton.[2] When Lichtenstein had his first solo show at The Leo Castelli Gallery in February 1962, it sold out before opening.[3] Roto Broil was one of the works that Lichtenstein exhibited at that show.[4] The work was acquired at Sotheby's, New York on October 21, 1976 for $ 75,000 USD[5]


Roto Broil is part of a 1961 trilogy of common commercial goods (along with Electric Cord and Turkey) that are considered his first "full-fledged images". They are reduce the narrative and highlight the "purely representational and explanatory value". This begins a period in which he presents bright objects in space for perusal.[6] It was among the pop works that "...shocked viewers with their confrontational banality..."[7]

Drawn from advertising, Roto Broil represents Lichtenstein's talent for depicting his source material in "unified, powerful and coherent formal structures" without his audience losing its connection to the source, while physically and powerfully expressing the key elements of his art — "colour, line, form, composition and so on." According to Modern Art: Impressionism to Post-Modernism,

the appliance itself, placed symmetrically against a uniform field of red, is treated in terms of bold simplified masses of black and white. Particularly striking is the rendering of the drainage holes in the frying-pan as black discs which take on a life of their own in the same way as they would in a completely abstract painting…The symmetry of the composition is calculatedly broken by the black lines (paradoxically indicating highlights) on the right side of the appliance and by the protruding handle of the pan on the same side.[8]

Roto Broil presents its subject in its entirety with no distracting objects, but with no supporting planar surface. Thus, "It occupies the picture-plane emblematically, centralized and head-on."[9] The "frontal and centralized presentation"'s directness lacked the sophistication to market the images of household goods for advertising but was considered daring artistically.[10]

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  1. ^ Hatch (2007). "Roy Lichtenstein: Wit, Invention, and the Afterlife of Pop". Pop Art: Contemporary Perspectives. New Haven: Yale University Press. p. 55. 
  2. ^ Coplans, John, ed. (1972). Roy Lichtenstein. Praeger Publishers. p. 39. The images of foodstuffs originate in two earlier paintings taken from advertisements: Roto Broil (1961), which has the frying element at the top poled with chickens (taken from a packaging carton)... 
  3. ^ 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... 
  4. ^ 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. 
  5. ^ "Roy Lichtenstein (American, 1923 - 1997): Roto broil". Blouin Art Sales Index. Retrieved May 15, 2012. 
  6. ^ Boatto, Alberto and Giordano Falzoni (ed.). Lichtenstein (International ed.). Fantazaria. pp. 54–56. With this trilogy begins a splendid series of object-hieroglyphics, those bright objects placed in space exclusively for purposes of optical inspection, in the course of which the eye is drawn simultaneously to the total configuration and to the individual detail, the image thus exerting a pressure which is distributed over the entire focal surface. 
  7. ^ Hatch. "Roy Lichtenstein: Wit, Invention, and the Afterlife of Pop". Pop Art: Contemporary Perspectives. p. 61. 
  8. ^ Britt, David, ed. (1999). "Pop". Modern Art: Impressionism to Post-Modernism. Thames and Hudson. pp. 311–314. ISBN 0-500-28126-2. 
  9. ^ Alloway, Lawrence (1983). Roy Lichtenstein. Abbeville Press. p. 14. ISBN 0-89659-331-2. 
  10. ^ 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. 


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