Sweet Dreams Baby, Roy Lichtenstein, 1965

The world of contemporary art didn’t have to wait too long for another moment desif.  As we left Warhol’s face on May 17th, either Mark Rothko or Roy Lichtenstein would resume the discussion, both being icons of contemporary art’s golden age (1950s – 1970s.)  

The decision was made for me by an an unusual incident I came across in Reuters (again)  involving both Warhol and Lichtenstein. 

 STOCKHOLM | Fri Jul 18, 2008  Works by pop art masters taken from Swedish museum

(Reuters) – Thieves broke into a museum near Stockholm overnight and stole five works by American pop artists Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein, the manager said on Friday.

The pictures, two lithographs by Warhol and three by Lichtenstein, were together estimated to be worth between 3 million and 4 million Swedish crowns ($500,000 and $670,000), said Carina Aberg of the family-run Aberg Museum.

She said the thieves spent less than 10 minutes in the building. “They knew exactly what they were doing. They had been here and planned the whole thing,” she told Reuters. She said the Warhol works stolen were entitled “Mickey Mouse” and “Superman”, from a series known as “Myths”. The Lichtenstein works taken were “Crak”, “Sweet Dreams, Baby!” and “Dagwood”.

Crak! Roy Lichtenstein 1964

I wondered why the discrepancy of estimated worth between the Aberg Museum heist and the millions reaped at Christie’s contemporary art auction.

Pow! Crak! But of course!

As I now recall, “the artist’s face [which] leaps off the canvas in blazing red” sold for $27.52 million.  Clearly ‘canvas’ is the operative word. Any face leaping off a canvas requires the face to be painted on the canvas in the first place.

And clearly, the news report specified lithographs were the stolen items. (Incidentally, lithography was invented in 1796  by Bavarian author Alois Senefelder as a low-cost method of publishing theatrical work.)

Useless factoid:  Christie’s sold a Lichtenstein  Crak! lithograph in September 2007 for £12,500 ($25,150) offset lithograph in colours, 1964, on thin wove paper, signed and dated in pencil, numbered 65/300, published by the L. Castelli Gallery, New York, the full sheet, pale time staining at the sheet edges, a small pale stain in the right margine, a crease at the tip of lower right sheet corner, otherwise in very good condition, framed.

ohhh...Alright... Roy Lichtenstein 1964

More important factoid:  The top lot of Christie’s 10 November [2010] Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Sale in New York was Roy Lichtenstein’s Pop Art masterpiece Ohhh…Alright…which achieved $42,642,500 [$38mil plus VAT], establishing a new world auction record for the artist. Painted in 1964 using his signature Ben-Day dots, Lichtenstein’s image of a blue-eyed, flame haired beauty illustrates the brash comic styling of the artist’s most celebrated period of artistic production. Video of Christie’s auction here.

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Roy Lichtenstein Foundation 

Hat-tip to New Britain Museum of American Art  [May 23rd] blog post for the heads-up on Lichtenstein ~

Andy Warhol: Saving the American Art Market Singlehandedly? 

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