House I

A treasure located in the Sculpture Garden of the National Gallery of Art is the bright colored whimsical house designed by Roy Lichtenstein, named ‘House I’.

Primary colors make this sculpture stand out and attract attention of everyone passing by.   It seems simple, but turns out to be more than it appears from just a passing glance.

The house uses optical illusion to play with perspective. To appreciate the full effect, walk at a steady rate along the arc of the sidewalk that runs in front of and nearly perpendicular to the sculpture, with your head turned to one side, facing the sculpture. The house will appear to be spinning in space, like the “Wizard of Oz” house.

It was constructed of painted aluminum, modeled in 1996 and constructed in 1999.

Among his last works, it was a part of the House series.

Lichtenstein draws the view in by simplicity, sending us away with more sense of time and space than elemental design.

House I incorporates the hallmarks of the artist’s style: crisp, elemental drawing, heavy black outlines, and a palette based on primary colors. Whereas most of the artist’s sculpture approximates freestanding paintings in relief rather than volumetric structures in the round, some of his late sculpture, such as House I, exploits the illusionistic effects of a third dimension. The side of the house at once projects toward the viewer while appearing to recede into space.

What first looks like a childlike concept is often developed by an artist’s expanding our consciousness, to be about our world in terms both elementary and profound at the same time.

Lichtenstein was known for pop art that plays with our senses.

(Picture courtesy of clio at

House I
Roy Lichtenstein