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

Roy Lichtenstein, renowned for his iconic contributions to the pop art movement through comic strip-inspired paintings, showcased a lesser-known facet of his artistic prowess with the House series, a collection of mind-bending sculptures. While his paintings were celebrated for their bold and graphic depiction of comic book scenes, Lichtenstein delved into the realm of sculpture in the late 1990s, introducing whimsical, freestanding and wall sculptures that form the House series. Characterized by vibrant hues of white, red, and yellow, these structures transform dramatically based on the viewer’s perspective. Lichtenstein meticulously crafted the optical illusion, investing time in numerous studies, sketches, and small mockups to perfect the placement of colors, ultimately achieving a captivating interplay of dimensionality when viewed from specific angles.

The House series culminated in three distinct sculptures, each a testament to Lichtenstein’s playful manipulation of perspective. House I, a full-scale prototype produced in 1996, stands today in the Sculpture Garden at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. Unfortunately, the artist’s untimely demise in 1997 at the age of 73 led to the posthumous fabrication of the final versions. House III, another masterpiece from the series, now graces Atlanta’s High Museum of Art, brought to life in 2003 through a commission by the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation. House II, though more elusive in its accessibility, exists in both an artist’s proof and a posthumously fabricated edition, residing within private collections. Last exhibited in 2013 as part of a Lichtenstein retrospective in Venice, House II stands as a testament to the enduring allure of Lichtenstein’s optical illusions in sculptural form.

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