Passed at Phillips, Roy Lichtenstein ‘Prop’ Moves to Sotheby’s

Roy Lichtenstein's "Prop for a Film" (1969) (Photo: Phillips de Pury & Co.)

Less than 18 months after it failed to find a buyer during an evening sale at Phillips de Pury & Company in London, a gigantic, unusual Roy Lichtenstein piece will be offered by Sotheby’s New York, on Sept. 22, with a far lower estimate.

When it hit the block at Phillips in June 2010, the 8-foot-long acrylic on board work, called Prop for a Film (1969), was tagged with a £500,000 to £700,000 estimate, or about $754,000 to $1.05 million at the time of the sale. This time, it’s expected to sell for a comparatively modest $400,000 to $600,000.

In a catalogue note, Phillips declared the piece “one of the most radical and monumental paintings Roy Lichtenstein ever executed.” Besides its large scale, the work stands out in the Pop artist’s oeuvre, which is dominated by representational pictures, since it is almost entirely abstract–a gigantic wall of black Ben-Day dots on a bright yellow background.

The work was created as part of the Art & Technology program at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, which brought together leading contemporary artists–like Andy Warhol, Robert Rauschenberg, and others–with engineers at major corporations in L.A. Lichtenstein’s piece was designed as part of a film installation that he collaborated on with filmmaker Joel Freedman and Universal Studios.

The resulting work was shown at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the 1970 World’s Fair, which was held in Osaka, Japan. The accompanying film that was shown along with the piece is not included with the lot.

We’ll see if it finds a buyer this time.

Correction: This article has been changed to reflect the fact that Lichtenstein’s work was produced as part of the Art and Technology program at LACMA, not the independent Experiments in Art and Technology program. Passed at Phillips, Roy Lichtenstein ‘Prop’ Moves to Sotheby’s