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The Poetry Project Symposium Poster was published in 1988 but reproduces Lichtenstein’s 1976 painting Still Life with Table Lamp. He had begun to explore the still life genre in a more focused way during the early 1970s, submitting various traditional motifs to the flattening and decorative aesthetic of commercial design. The results were witty and deadpan but also achingly elegant. The centuries-old codified language of still life (in which certain objects have a recognised symbolic meaning) is subverted and homogenised. Their relationship to each other becomes unclear, and the value system they represent is stripped away. What we are left with is a world bathed in the perfect permaglow of advertising, a sanitised ideal of graphic poise.
Lichtenstein had a long-term interest in poetry and would go on to create an illustrated portfolio for Allen Ginsberg in 1991. The Poetry Project was founded in 1966 on the Lower East Side in New York as a celebration and continuation of the legendary coffee house readings that flourished in the city at this time. By the mid-1980s the Project was holding an annual symposium featuring talks, panels and workshops.
This original poster was issued in an edition of only 200, of which 60 were signed in pencil by Lichtenstein. They were not individually numbered.