Tate Modern is staging the most comprehensive exhibition ever devoted to foremost Pop artist Roy Lichtenstein. Co-organised by The Art Institute of Chicago and Tate Modern, this is the first major Lichtenstein retrospective for twenty years, bringing together over 125 of the artist’s most definitive paintings and sculptures. Built on new research and scholarship, the exhibition reassesses Lichtenstein’s work and his enduring legacy.
Roy Lichtenstein (1923-1997) is one of the central figures of American Pop Art. In the early 1960s he pioneered a new style of painting, executed by hand but inspired by industrial printing processes. He became renowned for works based on comic strips and advertising imagery, coloured with his signature hand-painted Benday dots, as an ongoing examination of representation and originality in mass media culture. This exhibition showcases such key paintings as Look Mickey 1961 (National Gallery of Art, Washington), Whaam! 1963 (Tate) and Drowning Girl 1963 (Museum of Modern Art, New York). The artist’s rich and expansive practice is represented by a wide range of materials, including paintings using Rowlux and steel, as well as sculptures in ceramic and brass and a selection of previously unseen drawings, collages and works on paper.
Alongside the classic paintings of romantic heroines and scenes of war for which Lichtenstein is well known, this exhibition shows other early Pop works, such as images of everyday objects in black and white. Also on display are Lichtenstein’s artistic explorations depicting landscapes, mirrors and so-called ‘perfect’ and ‘imperfect’ paintings, as well as works which highlight Lichtenstein’s engagement with art history, revealing his lesser-known responses to Futurism, Surrealism and German Expressionism. In the final years of his life, the artist went on to create a series of huge female nudes and sublime Chinese landscapes, neither of which have previously been shown within the wider context of his oeuvre.
Roy Lichtenstein was born in New Yorkin 1923, where he lived and worked for most of his life. After studying art at OhioStateUniversity, he taught in New York and New Jersey before rising to prominence with a solo show at Castelli Gallery in 1962. He died in 1997 aged 73. His works are held in major public collections around the world, including the Museum ofModern Art,New York; Museum Ludwig,Cologne and theMuseum ofContemporary Art,Los Angeles.
Lichtenstein: A Retrospective is curated at Tate Modern by Sheena Wagstaff, Chairman of the Modern and Contemporary Art Department, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, and Iria Candela, Assistant Curator, Tate Modern. The exhibition opened at The Art Institute of Chicago, travelled to The National Gallery of Art, Washington and will go on to the Centre Pompidou, Paris. Bank of America Merrill Lynch is global sponsor of the exhibition. A fully illustrated catalogue has been published by The Art Institute of Chicago and distributed by Yale University Press.