Enlarge 1 / 1

On display on Level 2


United States of America 1923 – 1997

Kitchen range [Kitchen stove] 1961-62 Materials & Technique: paintings, oil on canvas

Primary Insc: signed and dated verso u.l., crayon, "rf, Lichtenstein/ 61-62"
Tertiary Insc: verso stretcher u.c., pencil "#"; verso stretcher c., green synthetic polymer paint, "35"; verso stretcher u.r, fibre-tipped pen, "# 36"; verso stretcher c.l., red pencil, "c3 c73"; verso strainer u.l., fibre-tipped pen, "# 36/ S.M. 5 [underlined 3 times] / 10 [inside circle]"; verso strainer u.l., rubber stamps, " 16", "DOUANES FRANCAISES/ Bureau de PANTIN"; verso strainer l. (vertical), rubber stamp, " DOUANA [illeg.]"; verso strainer u.c., rubber stamp "DOUANES FRANCAISES [inside circle]"; verso strainer c.r., rubber stamp "DOGANA PRINCIPALE, RIMINI [inside circle]"; verso strainer l.l. (inverted), red ballpoint pen, "XVI"; verso strainer l.r., rubber stamp, "FORT VANE";
Dimensions: 173.0 h x 173.0 w cm Framed 1744 h x 1744 w x 63 d mm
Acknowledgement: Purchased 1978
Accession No: NGA 79.68
Image rights: © Estate of Roy Lichtenstein. Licensed by Viscopy
  • the artist;
  • from whom bought by Michael and Ileana Sonnabend, Paris, through the Leo Castelli Gallery, New York, 1963;
  • private collection of Ileana Sonnabend, New York;
  • from whom bought by the Australian National Gallery, May 1978

In the summer of 1961 Lichtenstein abandoned the Abstract Expressionist style of earlier works and began to use commercial art as subject-matter in his painting. Kitchen stove, painted in the winter of 1961-62, was one of the first of those works.

The source of Kitchen stove was probably an advertisement. The painting mischievously retains the copyright symbol, located in the lower left-hand corner, and the Ben Day dots used by printers to reproduce tone. The Ben Day dots in Kitchen stove and other early works are laboriously reproduced by hand, and only later by mechanical means. Lichtenstein stated that it was his intention to follow the original commercial reproduction as closely as possible: 'The closer my work is to the original the more threatening and critical the content'.1

Colour in Kitchen stove is limited to yellow and blue, typical of the restricted palette of these early works. Lichtenstein explained in a 1971 interview that he was:

looking for the most contrast. Each colour had a certain character to me: the yellow was acid, and a colour that seemed to contrast as much as possible with it was a blue that was almost violet … I got some of these colours from supermarket packaging. I would look at package labels to see what colours had the most impact on one another. The idea of contrast seemed to be what advertising was into in this case. An advertisement is so intensely impersonal!'.2

The simple placement of the image in this composition is repeated in other works of 1961-63, such as Cherry pie 1961 (collection Anthony Berlant, Los Angeles), Golf ball 1962 (collection Melvin Hirsh, Beverly Hills), and Roto-broil 1961 (collection Leonard Asher, Los Angeles) which depict the consumer goods of a post-war United States. 'In these objects', said Lichtenstein, 'the golf ball, the frankfurter, and so on, there is an anti-Cubist composition. You pick an object and put it on a blank ground. I was interested in non-Cubist composition. The idea is contrary to the major direction of art since the early Renaissance which has more and more symbolised the integration of "figure" and "ground"'.3

Michael Lloyd & Michael Desmond European and American Paintings and Sculptures 1870-1970 in the Australian National Gallery 1992 p.316.

  1. John Coplans, 'An Interview with Roy Lichtenstein', Artforum, vol. 2, no. 4, October 1963, p.31.
  2. Diane Waldman, Roy Lichtenstein, London: Thames and Hudson, 1971, p.26.
  3. John Coplans, 'Talking with Roy Lichtenstein', Artforum, vol. 5, no. 9, May 1967, pp.34-9, p.34. See also Phyllis Tuchman, 'Pop! Interviews with George Segal, Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, James Rosenquist and Robert Indiana', Artnews, vol. 73, no. 5, May 1974, pp.24-9, p.27.

Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra