Sunday, August 5, 2012

Lichtenstein Retrospective

I just got back from Chicago where I viewed (three times) the Roy Lichtenstein Retrospective at the Art Institute of Chicago. The team spent 5 years preparing this exhibit. It is truly a wonderful presentation of Roy Lichtenstein's paintings and sculptures. There are, however, a number of blatant omissions that I can't explain. There are none of his prints except a few sketches done in preparation for the larger paintings in the exhibit. The entire set of waxtype images including the brushstroke series of 1987 are missing. Since these are the basis of my encaustic serigraph interest, I was disappointed in not being able to see them in person. Most of what is shown are the classic images that the artist is most known for as well as a few atypical sculptures. Photographing the works is allowed except for those that are marked. The catalogue produced for the event is huge and the reproductions in it are extremely well done. Scholar's rock (item 123) is photographed or printed backwards. The two articles by the curator, James Rondeau are written in a language that is so abstruse that it is extremely difficult to read and serves only to highlight the author's superb vocabulary rather than to communicate with art aficionados. The other articles in the volume are much more pleasing to read and communicate to the reader more effectively.

There's a chronology at the end of the book that is very useful, but, again, the wax type brushstrokes are omitted. For that matter, any collaboration with Donald Saff and Graphic Studios as well as with Gemini and others is not mentioned. But, then, again, no printmaking was mentioned anywhere that I have yet to discover. I find this amazing in light of his expertise and the fact that he was one of seven artists featured in "Seven Master Printmakers" by the Museum of Modern Art, 1991, based on the Torsten Lilja collection. To me this omission is incredible, but I got into this through an interest in screen printing, specifically, and printmaking in general, so my views are likely skewed.

The exhibit includes sections on the early pieces, including, "Look Mickey" , mirrors room, perfect/imperfect room, and a room with Chinese style paintings, all bearing the characteristic Benday dots. Of particular interest was the progression of the format of the dots. Early on, each dot was painstakingly painted individually and some of the handwritten notes give clues to the different arrangements, including superimposition of dot patterns in order to produce the desired effect. Not shown were the pieces in which pre made (purchased) dots on paper were collaged into the painting in a manner that hid the boundaries of the separate pieces unless the viewer stands within a few inches of the painting.

I've chosen a few images from the exhibit, some were photographed directly in person and some were photographed from my copy of the catalogue.

Front of Art Institute of Chicago

Ads Around Town

Entrance to Exhibit
Look Mickey, 1961, Oil on canvas. 48 x 69 in.

Ohhh...Alright..., 1964; Oil and Magna on canvas, 36 x 38 in.
Drawing for Ohhh...Alright
Hot dog with mustard, 1963, Oil and Magna on canvas, 18 x 48 in.
Every time I see this I get hungry for a hot dog
Varoom!, 1963, oil and magna on canvas, 56 x 56 in.

Haystack , 1969, oil and magna on canvas, 18 x 24 in.
after Monet

Haystacks, 1969, oil and magna on canvas, 16 x 24 in.
also after Monet
Notes about haystacks including specific
variations of dot patterns and colors that might work
Perforated Seascape #1 Blue), 1965, porcelain enamel on steel.
28.5 x 42 in.
Incredible metal mesh with dot patterns beneath that give
a predictable moire' pattern when viewed at various angles.
Mirror #3 (Six Panels), 1971, oil and magna on canvas, 120 x 132 in.
Huge wall sized painting of mirrors
Sketch for Mirror #3
Nudes with beach ball, 1994, oil and magna on canvas, 118.5 x 107.25 in.
Dot pattern has now changed to vertical
Interior with nude leaving, 1997, oil and mineral spirits acrylic (MSA) on canvas, 70 x 71 in.
Notice centerpiece is a characteristic brushstroke pattern
Sketch for Interior with nude leaving
Still Life with Glass and Peeled Lemon, 1972
oil and magna on canvas, 42 x 48 in.
Incredible use of dot and triangle patterns
Landscape with Philosopher, 1996, oil and magna on canvas, 104 x 47.75 in.
Part of landscapes in the Chinese style series
My favorite; shows man subjugated to nature
Scholar's rock, 1996-97, cast and painted stainless steel, 28 x 17 1/8 x 8 3/4 in.
The End