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Thinking Nude (C. 289), 1994Screenprint in colors 62 d x 42 w in 157.5 h x 106.7 w cm
Thinking Nude (C. 289) is featured in Lichtenstein’s Nudes series. Late in his career, Lichtenstein returned to the female subject of his 1960s comic strip works in a more provocative way, by broaching the most ancient genre of art, the female nude. As one of the last series before his death in 1997, Lichtenstein first introduced the theme of the nude female form towards the end of his 50-year career with these monumental screenprints. Instead of using live models like artists of previous generations, such as Picasso and Matisse, the women come from Lichtenstein’s archive of comic clippings, some dating back to the 1960s, but the key difference being that the originally clothed heroines are now undressed. This series transgressed traditional conventions and was dubbed “erotic graphic pulp.”
Rejecting fleshy contours of the female body, Lichtenstein employed an extensive amount of Benday dots, used to mimic chiaroscuro and flattened space, to create unrealistic contrasts and forms. In Thinking Nude (C. 289), the application and function of the variable-sized Benday dots vary. They transgress boundaries of her curvilinear torso, and cascade from the picture’s top to bottom, over several subjects at a time, breaking the conventional distinctions of foreground and background, yet still suggesting three-dimensional pictorial space. The work has a wider tonal range, of secondary colors light blue and teal, than his primary-color comic works of the 1960s. As Lichtenstein noted in an interview on this series, the nude form is "a good excuse to contrast undulating and volumetric form with rigid geometry." (Robert Hurlburt, "Lichtenstein Returns to Comic-Book Style," Sun-Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale), November 13, 1994)
Thinking Nude (C. 289) remains an object of desire, just as in traditional paintings, yet she is captured in a state of bliss, and we see she is in control and experiences desire of her own.