Brush with Brilliance
Roy Lichtenstein’s Brushstroke across medium
Celebrated for his Pop-inflected irony and meta-interrogation of media forms and formats, Roy Lichtenstein cultivated a long and fruitful relationship with the primary symbol of painting: the brush and brushstroke. Brushstroke III, created in tandem with Tyler Graphics in 1986, is one of Lichtenstein’s early forays into translating his series of Brushstrokes paintings into sculpture and bringing his signature playfulness and precision into three dimensions.
“[Lichtenstein was] a painter who loved painting, but also wanted to morph it into every other medium possible,” notes Jack Cowart, Executive Director of the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation. Lichtenstein first began to explore the brushstroke as subject in 1965, using an image drawn from the comic Strange Suspense Stories to inform his now-iconic version of the motif. The series of paintings that emerged were a direct comment on the all-pervasive Abstract Expressionist movement, in which Lichtenstein isolated, interrogated, and transformed the primary gesture of the medium.
Lichtenstein first began to experiment with monumentalizing his brushstroke in the early 1980s. He completed several commissions of free-standing brushstrokes made from painted aluminum, towering between 20 and 30 feet tall. Brushstroke III emerged amidst this new chapter, a distinct moment in Lichtenstein’s pendulum swing between painting and sculpture and back again. At just over five feet in height and made to be mounted on the wall, arranged in such a way as to alternately appear flat and dimensional, Brushstroke III in many respects synthesizes Lichtenstein’s test of the boundaries of medium, standing as a crowning example of the artist’s technical mastery and hunger to experiment.