“Compositions II” is a Wonderful Painting

This is “Compositions II” by Roy Lichtenstein:

It is 142 centimeters tall and 122 cm wide, a precisely life-size painting of a notebook I would like to have.

It is 48 years old, and comp notebooks like this are still about the same price (if you know where to look). That’s comforting, somehow.

There is, as far as Google and I can tell, no “Compositions” or “Compositions I” by Roy Lichtenstein. So he’s either A) messing with us, or B) making a whimsically serious/ seriously whimsical point about art being composed after its original.

The black designs on the white cover are: orcas, dead babies, sunglasses, silhouettes of incoming choppers, leaping deer, dancers, layered fossils, and…

There is no name on the line. Each of us that steps up to the painting imagines our own name there. And as soon as you do, the painting becomes a horror or a glory, depending, you know, on who you are and how tenth grade went for you.

A huge amount of writing or drawing would fit in this comp book, but every bit of it must remain imaginary because if you flipped the cover open, you’d uncover only a museum wall. And probably trip a terrifying alarm. This speaks to the enormous possibilities of each person’s imagination and the possible difficulties, disappointments, and terrors of exploring them.

Also, not “every bit of it must remain imaginary”–we could each keep our hands off of the painting, walk safely out of the gallery, purchase a stack of comp books, and begin recording what we began imagining. This speaks to the way a “dead” object stirs up new creativity and life.

The white designs on the black cover are: inflatable twitching puppet dancers, heat lightning, unvisited islands, flashing blades, and…

This in Italy right now, which I’ve heard is lovely.

I would definitely spend a few euros in the museum giftshop for a notebook with this piece reprinted on its cover.

(Image found at biblioklept, details at WikiPaintings.)

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