Another week, another World Record price in the art markets.
This time, the piece in question was I Can See the Whole Room!...and There's Nobody in It! by the legendary Pop Artist Roy Lichtenstein.
The seminal museum-quality work, which has been unseen on the market since gracing the cover of Emily and Burton Tremaine's sale in 1988, set a World Record price for the artist.
It brought $43,202,500 at Christie's Post-War and Contemporary sale last night (November 8).
I Can See the Whole Room!…and There's Nobody in It!, is one of the earliest and most important of Lichtenstein's Pop Art pictures.
Formerly in the collection of the legendary Emily and Burton Tremaine, this picture has been exhibited and published widely, in part because it so perfectly encapsulates the wisdom and wit of Lichtenstein's greatest works.
Painted in 1961, I Can See the Whole Room!…and There's Nobody in It! depicts a man's face peering through a speakeasy-style peephole into the realm of the viewer—who presumably does not exist, if the picture's speech balloon is to be believed.
Dating from the same year as Lichtenstein's first true comic-strip painting, Look Mickey, the work conveys the excitement of a moment of great discovery, when the artist found he could explore the deep formal possibilities and paradoxes of modern abstraction through the surface play of the print media.
Lichtenstein based it on a picture by William Overgard for the comic strip Steve Roper, of which Overgard became aware when I Can See the Whole Room!…and There's Nobody in It! featured in one of the earliest exhibitions at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in 1963.
On that occasion, Overgard wrote to TIME magazine, saying that it was, "Very flattering… I think?" In the years since, the work has come to be seen as an essential cornerstone in the history of Pop Art.