The panel combines aspects from Lichtenstein’s Art Deco and Modern Paintings series.
Alexandre Van battel
The panel combines aspects from Lichtenstein’s Art Deco and Modern Paintings series.

American pop artist Roy Lichtenstein's unique painted enamel panel to be auctioned

Sotheby’s David Rothschild talks about the significance of the panel and the enduring kinship between art and luxury

Luxury living and art have always been soul sisters of sorts. Case in point, is the unique painted enamel panel created by American pop artist Roy Lichtenstein in 1969, commissioned by the late bon vivant art collector Gunter Sachs for his second wife, the French model and actress Brigitte Bardot.

David Rothschild, sales director, Sotheby’s Private Sales of Contemporary Art, New York

The iconic piece is up for auction on May 16, and will most likely continue the long-standing relationhip between art and luxury in a modern, high-end home. We speak to David Rothschild, sales director, Sotheby’s Private Sales of Contemporary Art, New York, about the significance of this Lichtenstein panel and how the connection between art and opulent lifestyle has been evolving in recent times.

Could you walk us through the events that led to Roy Lichtenstein being commissioned this work?
Gunter Sachs had met Roy Lichtenstein in Southampton, New York in the summer of 1968. Later that year, Sachs sent Lichtenstein a letter from Paris to commission some enamel painted panels for the washbasin and bath in the Pop Art penthouse he was renovating at Badrutt’s Palace in St.Moritz, following the catastrophic fire that had hit the hotel the previous year. Lichtenstein was given very specific instructions – not only of the exact dimensions of the panel, but of its design: according to a letter to the artist he wanted ‘a landscape in a thunder-shower.’

What are some of the unique characteristics of this panel?
The panel combines aspects from Lichtenstein’s Art Deco and Modern Paintings series and visual references to past works, such as his 1965 ‘Sunrise’ series represented by the radiant sun in the left section of the painting and repeated on the right side of the mid-section, and the ‘Moonscape’-style banner separates the two sides which are interspersed with his signature black Ben-Day dots. The way in which it was created is also different, say, to Warhol’s process in that Lichtenstein set out by magnifying and transferring his sketches painstakingly by hand rather than transferring the image by silkscreen process.

As you prepare for this auction, how do you see the relationship between art and luxury living evolving over these years?
In recent years, the blurring of the boundaries between the worlds of art and luxury living has been steadily increasing, as evidenced in the rise of branded spaces at art fairs, brand-hosted art exhibitions and the establishment of museums by luxury fashion houses. It will be interesting to see how these innovations continue in the future and what effect they have on the art market. 

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