The fascination which Roy Lichtenstein (New York, USA, 1923-1997) felt during his whole life for the image is the focus of this retrospective exhibition on the artist. Lichtenstein was, along with Andy Warhol, the most prominent representative of Pop Art, he captivated the American art scene in the early sixties which grew out of, to a certain extent, a reaction against Abstract Expressionism.
Lichtenstein's work shows two prominent iconographic references: the huge archive of paintings from art history and the bank of images belonging to contemporary American culture, which is growing at an uncontrolled pace. In both cases Lichtenstein seeks the same: a clear and powerful image that people can recognise immediately. The images in the history of art that the artist restores function as recognised artistic icons in the collective imagination. Lichtenstein discovers the power exercised by images of popular culture, whether the mere representation of an object such as a kitchen, a pair of trainers or any other inanimate everyday product, or a more clever -emotionally speaking- and melodramatic sentimental representation; here his comic panels stand out. Lichtenstein's paintings are sharp, precise, powerful in colour and surface, even though his universe is rather cold and mechanical, with a remarkable artistic talent and a strong compositional force.
The focus of this exhibition is driven by the enormous interest the artist shows throughout his career for the investigation into the image as such. This is reflected very clearly in the many works that make up this articulated retrospective, based on various elements belonging to the rhetoric on the creation of images: strokes, reflection, paraphrasing from other paintings, self-portraits, as well as purely rhetorical manifestations. Around this epicentre other significant collections can be found: boxes of objects and clichés from his early period, flat iconic representations of situations from popular culture and the transformation of objects from the consumer society into images. In contrast to the rotunda surface, particular attention is devoted to Lichtenstein’s enduring interest in the specialty of lesser known works, including landscapes, still lifes, interiors and spaces, which display a clear nod to Surrealism.
Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebaek, Denmark (August 22, 2003 - January 11, 2004); Hayward Gallery, United Kingdom (February 26 - May 16, 2004); San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (23 October, 2004 - 22 February, 2005)
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