Goldfish are seen swimming around in what is admittedly a very limited space. The drinking glass they call their home is surrounded by fruit.
Produced using oil and magna on canvas, the painting looks like a commercial advertisement or a panel in a comic strip. The painting is also influenced by the work of Henri Matisse, whose work was colourful, decorative and expressive. Like Lichtenstein, still life was among Matisse's favourite subjects during his long career.
This satirical image brings the techniques which are typically associated with mechanically produced images into the sphere of fine art. Lichtenstein may be inviting the viewer to pay attention to this method of production in pieces like "Image Duplicator", which boldly states "What Do You Know About My Image Duplicator?"
Pure colours are used in the painting, further strengthening the connection with Matisse. Fans of Andy Warhol may also recognise the pop iconography which is synonymous with his work. Lichtenstein's inclusion of fruit in his work may be intended as a humorous comment, since so many artists throughout the years, from Roman artists in Pompeii to Michelangelo's "Fruit Basket", have all used fruit in still life paintings.
Lichtenstein's artwork is often seen as a record of the history of art. The artist presents his own meditations on each genre of art and the way in which art becomes something that all people eventually regard as their own in some way. This gives Lichtenstein artistic license as he interprets Matisse's "Goldfish", completed in 1915.
Even the scrolled grill work in Matisse's painting has made an appearance in "Still Life with Goldfish". Lichtenstein has created something new and to add to the fun, he inserted an image from another Matisse painting in his work. This is a painting of a woman, which has no connection to the "Goldfish" painting. His unmixed colors make the painting clear.
The comic strip style that is used in the creation of "Still Life with Goldfish" is evidence of one the satirical artist's main sources of inspiration. His use of parody, even as he documents the events of daily life, is not unusual among the artists associated with the Contemporary Art Movement. Lichtenstein sought to remove some of the pretension and ego associated with high modernism. This image lacks pomp and uses clever humour to make art more engaging.