A new spotlight exhibition opens March 3, 2017, featuring five works by the iconic American artist Roy Lichtenstein who—along with artists like Andy Warhol, Tom Wesselmann, and James Rosenquist—helped to establish a new art movement in the early 1960s that critics soon dubbed “Pop art.” The works in the gallery span the first decade of Lichtenstein’s turn to his unique Pop aesthetic, from 1961 to 1972, and demonstrate the artist’s range of subjects and the development of his style. Two featured works, Standing Explosion (Red) (1966) and Still Life with Mirror (1972), come from Crystal Bridges’ own collection, while the remaining three: Sussex (1964), Like New (1962), and Popeye (1961), are on loan from private collections. Seen together, the works also reveal an artist breaking down traditional barriers between high art and mass media, a defining characteristic of Pop art.
The inclusion of Popeye, one of Lichtenstein’s earliest works inspired by comic books, offers Crystal Bridges visitors a very rare opportunity to see this foundational Pop art work on public display.
Like fellow artist Andy Warhol, Lichtenstein began his career as a commercial artist—an experience that influenced the subjects of his later paintings, prints, and sculptures. The artist translated images from mass culture into his artworks, finding inspiration in comics and advertisements. He frequently simulated the look of commercial print media of the era, including strong outlines and bold colors. He even borrowed the “Ben-Day” dot technique from mass printing, in which small dots of color overlap to create shading and color effects. His attitude toward this subject matter often seemed ambiguous: did his images celebrate or critique pop culture—or perhaps both?
Roy Lichtenstein: In Focus is on view in Crystal Bridges upper temporary exhibition gallery March 3 – July 31, 2017. Admission is free.
Want to learn more about Pop art in Crystal Bridges collection and have fun doing it? Sign up for our upcoming program Look Closer: Roy Lichtenstein! This is not your grandmother’s Art 101 lecture program! It’s a three-part series will be led by Museum Educator Brady Plunger along with Curator Chad Alligood and Interpretation Manager Stace Treat; and each session will include art viewing in the gallery, paired with activities to better connect you to the works on view. With these three guys at the helm, each session is sure to be both informative and fun, with lots of entertaining and thought-provoking conversation along the way. Click here for more information, or to register!