A simple handshake that turned into gold.

A simple handshake that turned into gold.

A folded poster is usually a no-go for auctions, but there are exceptions. Roy Lichtenstein’s rare ‘Handshake’ 1962 gallery mailer is one of them. Folded twice down to letter size, the sheet was glued together and sent out as an invitation to the friends of Castelli Gallery, these days located in posh 4 East 77 street, between Madison and Fifth. On Saturday, Februar 10 started the first show in New York City of the hot young artist, and it sold out (scroll down here to the 1962 exhibition and see two impressions of the gallery space with Lichtenstein’s early signature artworks in it).

The mailer reproduced Lichtenstein’s oli painting ‘Handshake’ from the year before, but with the black and red components shown separately and then joined in the lower right panel, describing the nature of the printing process. It is said that either the artist himself or Leo Castelli’s graphic designer had the idea, but Lichtenstein was not able to remember correctly, when being asked about it.


Properly framed as an art object, the simple invitation letter becomes an eyeturner with historical importance (example below).

The 17 x 22″ (43.18 x 55.88 cm, unframed) print shown above will be in the Art & Photography Posters Auction of catawiki on April 14th, 2017. The print run is not known, the provenance is Edward Kurstak Fine Art Gallery, Florida, USA. It is signed by Roy Lichtenstein and in impeccable state, because it most certainly has not been glued together and mailed in 1962.


1. Mary Lee Corlett, The prints of Roy Lichtenstein, a catalogue raisonné 1948-1994, appendix 1, page 322, Manchester, USA 1994
2. Jürgen Döring & Claus von der Osten, Lichtenstein Posters, page 112, Munich 2008

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