This is it. The reason Chicagoans put up with sweltering summer heat and wicked winter temperatures. It’s the thing that makes high traffic and high taxes worthwhile. It’s the WHAAM! of Windy City perks. The must-see show of the year. It’s the Art Institute of Chicago’s unparalleled and unprecedented Roy Lichtenstein: A Retrospective.
The largest exhibition of the Pop artist to date and the first of only two American venues, this monumental show features more than 160 of Lichtenstein’s works, ranging from the familiar to the obscure and covering the whole of his prolific career—starting with Look Mickey (1961), Lichtenstein’s first Pop painting and ending with his Perfect/Imperfect abstractions, Pop art nudes, and Chinese landscapes.
Rarely-seen drawings, tongue-in-cheek paintings, and two-dimensional sculpture depicting Lichtenstein’s signature style traverse art historical movements and art history itself. Five years in the making, the exhibition covers the artist’s different phases, carefully arranging the works into categories including a room of refelctionless mirrors. On the surface, his iconic advertisement and comic book-inspired works please the eye with vivid color and clever wit yet the content is layered with thought-provoking messages and questions about Pop and World Culture.
“The Art Institute of Chicago has several important works by Roy Lichtenstein in its permanent collection, including Brushstroke with Spatter (1966) and Mirror #3 (Six Panels) (1971),” states James Rondeau, Frances and Thomas Dittmer Chair and Curator, Department of Contemporary Art at the Art Institute. “But it has long been an ambition of mine to present these works in the context of Lichtenstein’s rich and impressive career. Lichtenstein is rightly recognized for being a foundational Pop artist who created some of the most iconic works of the 20th century. But these works—the comic strips, the war imagery—represent only part of Lichtenstein’s decades-long career.
“Our aim with this exhibition is to explore the full range of absorbing contradictions at the heart of Lichtenstein’s work—starting with the paradox that Lichtenstein systematically dismantled the history of modern art while becoming a fixture in that canon. Lichtenstein, we hope to show, was a profoundly radical artist with a lasting impact on the history of 20th-century art.”
Boasting works as fresh and revolutionary as they were 50 years ago, the accessible avant guard artist is made even more accessible with the museum’s interactive blog at http://roy.artic.edu/blog.
The exhibition is on view at The Art Institute of Chicago on 111 South Michigan Avenue through September 3, 2012. It will then travel to the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. (October 14, 2012-January 6, 2013); the Tate Modern, London (February 21-May 27, 2013); and the Centre Pompidou in Paris (July 3-November 4, 2013). To be among these prestigious venues, proves how fortunate Chicagoans are to have a show of this magnitude at their door. Don’t miss it!