With paintings such as Still Life with Goldfish, 1972, Lichtenstein began a renewed involvement with still life. Unlike his 1960s still lifes which featured common everyday objects,
the still lifes of the 1970s were usually more elaborate and included a complex arrangement of objects, some of them motifs from his earlier work or ornate tableaux in which still life and
landscape are merged.
Still Life with Goldfish is based on Henri Matisse's Goldfish (1912), but it also quotes Lichtenstein's own Golf Ball. Here, as in many of the still lifes of this period, Lichtenstein manipulated imagery and composition - goldfish, bowl, lemons, a rubber plant, a golf ball, with multiple perspectives - to create a harmonious but implausible setting. In appropriating Matisse's image, Lichtenstein continues to play with the question of originality: the Matisse is itself a highly stylized version of a still life; is the Lichtenstein any less original for being a stylized version of the Matisse?