Roy Lichtenstein’s House Sculptures Are Mind-Bending Optical Illusions in Real Life

Roy Lichtenstein House I

Photo: Maia C via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 DEED)

Pop artist Roy Lichtenstein is primarily known for his paintings that look like frames from a comic strip, but did you know that he was also a sculptor? The American artist has several public sculptures on view, but perhaps some of his most charming work comes from his House series. These whimsical sculptures play with color and perspective in a way that is uniquely Lichtenstein.

Produced in the late 1990s, the House series consists of two freestanding and one wall sculpture. Rendered in white, red, and yellow, the houses change dramatically depending on where the viewer stands. The relatively flat sculpture appears fully three-dimensional when viewed at a precise angle. This playful game of perspective was carefully cultivated by the artist, who produced numerous studies for the three sculptures.

Moving from sketches on paper to small mockups, Lichtenstein plays with the placement of color, perhaps in an effort to see which combination gave the most dramatic result. While a full-scale prototype of House I was produced in 1996, the final versions from the House series were fabricated posthumously after Lichtenstein died in 1997 at the age of 73. Today, House I is on view in the Sculpture Garden at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., and House III can be found at Atlanta's High Museum of Art. The painted aluminum piece was fabricated in 2003 after being commissioned by the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation.

House II, of which both an artist's proof and a posthumously fabricated edition exist, is harder to view. This is primarily because both fabrications are part of private collections. It was last on view in 2013 when it was part of a Lichtenstein exhibition in Venice.

In the late 1990s, Roy Lichtenstein designed a series of House sculptures that are carefully cultivated illusions.

Watch High Museum of Art curator Michael Rooks discuss Roy Lichtenstein's House III.

h/t: [Laughing Squid]

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Jessica Stewart

Jessica Stewart is a Contributing Writer and Digital Media Specialist for My Modern Met, as well as a curator and art historian. Since 2020, she is also one of the co-hosts of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. She earned her MA in Renaissance Studies from University College London and now lives in Rome, Italy. She cultivated expertise in street art which led to the purchase of her photographic archive by the Treccani Italian Encyclopedia in 2014. When she’s not spending time with her three dogs, she also manages the studio of a successful street artist. In 2013, she authored the book 'Street Art Stories Roma' and most recently contributed to 'Crossroads: A Glimpse Into the Life of Alice Pasquini'. You can follow her adventures online at @romephotoblog.
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