New York

Roy Lichtenstein

Castelli Gallery | Uptown

The tenacity with which Roy Lichtenstein has remained attached to the premises of classic Pop ideology is staggering, not so much because he is the last of the grand Pop masters to do so, but because he is the only one who demonstrates that there is still vital are to be mined from this vein which has seemed barren for at • least seven years now. The central proposition of Pop was the substitution of a commercial visual convention for an experienced sensory episode think, for example, of the metallic glints of the ewers of Vermeer and how they might be transmitted as pseudo-linecut on newsprint and you see the kina of disparity between sense appeal and pragmatism which gave such enormous interest to Pop. lichtenstein’s ethnic newspaper-cut of George Washington and his Benday moire Rauen Cathedral facades are only two famous examples from his oeuvre of this kind of ellipsis. So, too, in the present selection of “mirrors,” easily the most striking exhibition lichtenstein has had since the introduction of sculpture, Art Deco motifs and capitalist-humanist sloganeering (“ peace through chemistry”) in his work. The “mirrors” continue the Art Deco enthusiasm in tondo shapes, vanity ovals and aligned rectangles, all of course made of canvas and paint. Certainly the appeals of these pictures relate to the hunger of decorative revivalists for this kind of image; yet, I wonder whether Robert Smithson’s early staggered layers of mirror or his mirror travels through the Yucatan, or Lucas Samaras’s mirrored chambers, or Larry Bell’s reflecting infinity boxes, or Robert Morris’s scatter piece which incorporates soft material and mirror (to mention only some of the many examples of the late ’60s) do not establish a lexicon of mirroring to which lichtenstein is now appending his “debased form” surrogate?

Robert Pincus-Witten