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Who's On First?

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Who's On First?

Objet 1. Roy Lichtenstein paper plate, 1969. 10 x 10. Screenprint.

According to sources, in 1969 Lichtenstein created these plates exclusively for sale at On 1st, the New York shop of photographer Bert Stern. They were to be sold in packages of ten.

On First, yes, really on First Avenue in NYC, sounds to me like my favorite kind of retail store, a curated concept shop, the kind of place that sells high art paper plates. From 40 years ago? A little research finds that during the 60s Stern opened the show across the street from his studio. In an interview with Timothy Greenfield-Sanders, he discusses how he sold, "innovative objects, art objects, Lichtenstein paper plates and Marilyn Monroe scarves." Hmm...I wonder what a MM scarve looks like. Stern was even trying to sell Andy Warhol's films but according to Stern, "He wouldn't agree right away...anyhow he left and went back to his studio and got shot that afternoon. From then on,  whenever I'd see him a party he'd cross the room saying, "No, no, last time I met with him, I got shot." 

If only Stern had the chance. It seems as if not too long after the Lichtenstein plates were commissioned, Stern closed the shop, but nevertheless, a secondary market for the plates quickly spawned. While one resides at the Tate Modern, you too can own a Lichtenstein paper plate via Ebay.

I've always thought it would be a great present to give someone that was having a picnic in the park.

Over the years, I've stared at this plate at a friend's house and I always loved this graphic object. Mostly, it's just so wonderfully funny that Lichtenstein would create his own version of something useful and disposable. These arrestingly vivid, customized and often signed paper plates are the ultimate useless and indisposable objet. Is it art? Is it smart?

Does it matter because it's on first...

Though I do wonder, if he were alive today, do you think some handpainted and signed condoms would have been in order? I'm thinking there are some future Banksy stencilled airbags...an installation of burnt out cars with posh custom airbags. I can see the bidding wars now...the devil doesn't wear prada, it bids on banksy, or at least watches...

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