Just In: Roy Lichtenstein “Sweet Dreams, Baby!” (1965)
Los Angeles Modern Auctions is pleased to announce that Roy Lichtenstein’s Sweet Dreams, Baby! (from 11 Pop Artists, Volume III) (1965) will go to auction on October 12, 2014. Considered to be one of the pioneering artist’s first “true” Pop prints, Sweet Dreams, Baby! has remained in private hands since it was originally purchased in 1971 from John Berggruen Gallery.
In 1965, Philip Morris, titan of the tobacco industry and purveyor of the Marlboro Man, sponsored three portfolios – 11 Pop Artists – as its first venture into art commissions. Each of the three portfolios contained 11 prints by important American and British artists of the Pop Art movement – Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Tom Wesselman, James Rosenquist, Jim Dine, Mel Ramos, Allen Jones, and Peter Philips, among others. Philip Morris also sponsored the exhibition of the prints in shows both in America (Pop and Op) and abroad in Europe and Latin American countries (11 Pop Artists: The New Image). With help from the PR firm, Ruder and Finn, Philip Morris intended to use the artistic collaboration to expand into new markets, as well as to reinforce its brand as part of avant-garde culture, promoting freedom of expression and American capitalism to countries abroad.
In addition, as a response to the first report from the United States Surgeon General conclusively linking smoking to lung cancer in 1964, the Pop Art sponsorship allowed Philip Morris to show that advertising was a vital component of American culture. Many of the prints in the 11 Pop Artists portfolios consist of depictions of cigarettes, logos, comic book imagery, and advertising, which were promoted as symbols of Americans’ right to free speech and democratic freedom.
With a one-two punch, Sweet Dreams, Baby! confronts the viewer with the very essence of the Pop movement: mass culture directly in front of you – bold, vibrant, and dynamic. Bursting with stylized text and Ben Day dots, Lichtenstein utilizes the pervasiveness of comic books to instantly make a connection with the viewer. The dual nature of a normally affectionate phrase, “Sweet Dreams, Baby!” highlights the artist’s wit and sends his “goodbyes” to the man who was just knocked out.
Other examples of this print can be seen in the permanent collections of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, RISD Museum, and the Milwaukee Art Museum.
Sweet Dreams, Baby! (from 11 Pop Artists Portfolio, Vol. III)
Color screenprint on paper
Published by Original Editions, New York
#22 of 50 proofs numbered in Roman numerals aside from the edition of 200
Image: 35.5″ x 25.5″; Sheet: 37.5″ x 27.5″; Frame: 39.5″ x 29.5″
Signed in pencil lower right; edition inscribed in Roman numerals lower left
Literature: Bianchini, Paul. Roy Lichtenstein: Drawings and Prints. New York: Chelsea House, 1969, p 220, #11; Corlett, Mary Lee. The Prints of Roy Lichtenstein: A Catalogue Raisonné, 1948-1993. New York: Hudson Hills Press, 2002, #39.
To be offered in the October 12, 2014 Modern Art & Design Auction
Reference: Maxwell, Richard. Culture Works: The Political Economy of Culture. Minneapolis: University Of Minnesota Press, 2001, pp 31-40.