Roy Lichtenstein’s Elusive Entablatures at Paula Cooper Gallery – New York City

Ohhh Alright by Roy Lichtenstein, 1964

– By Val Bitici- 

Less than one year ago Roy Lichtenstein’s Ohhh… Alright (1964) sold at auction at Christie’s for a record $42,642,500. Part of his iconic comic-strip series of the 1960s, this painting is one of the works that catapulted the artist to fame as a founding member of the American Pop Art movement. But did you know that Lichtenstein is celebrated for more than just his hallmark cartoons?

In the early 1970s, eager to continue growing as an artist, Lichtenstein began studying architecture. He walked around his hometown of New York photographing iconic buildings such as the New York Public Library, and became particularly inspired by the rectangular bands of moldings located above columns on urban structures. The artist’s curiosity of these decorative bands, called entablatures, led him to begin experimenting with geometric abstraction, and eventually paved the way for a new series of works.

With Entablatures, currently on view at Paula Cooper Gallery in New York, Lichtenstein strays from figural representation but continues to satirize human behavior by creating a string of optical illusions in each work. Choosing the entablature as his platform, the artist toys with the viewers’ perception of space by mixing his signature Ben-Day dot technique with geometric forms and harsh tonalities such as dark and light colors and shiny metallics to disorient viewers. Are the paintings flat, or 3-dimensional? Are they pure paintings, or are they collage? I spent nearly one hour in Paula Cooper Gallery trying to answer those exact questions – now it’s your turn to tackle the aesthetic conundrum.

Entablature by Lichtenstein, 1974



 Roy Lichtenstein’s Entablatures is on view at Paula Cooper Gallery’s 534 West 21st Street location, now through November 12.  




Val Bitici is a writer, born and raised in manhattan. Since 2008, she has worked as part of Vanity Fair’s editorial team, sometimes contributing to Val spends her free time blogging (, traveling, trying new restaurants, cooking, skiing, and dreaming about one day becoming an art collector. 

About the Author

Val is a writer and editor born and based in New York City. She started her editorial career at Teen Vogue, then moved on to Vanity Fair and Travel+Leisure. She is currently the head of content at StyleKist, a new social commerce app that allows fashionistas to shop and make commissions from their photo and video feeds. You may follow her @diaryofval