Meditations on Art
Roy Lichtenstein is to be seen in Europe once more in a wide-ranging show that promises to be one of the most important artistic events of the new year. The show, curated by Gianni Mercurio, will open in the Triennale di Milano on January 26 and, in July, will then travel to the Ludwig Museum, Cologne, with the title “Roy Lichtenstein, Kunst als Motiv”, co-curated by Stephan Diederich where it will remain open to the public until October 3 2010.
Realized together with the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation and organized by the Triennale di Milano and Alphaomega Art in collaboration with the Milan City Council, the show will include over one hundred largescale canvases as well as various drawings, collages, and sculptures leant by prestigious international public and private collections. Among these are the Ludwig Museum, Cologne; the Ludwig Forum, Aachen; the Louisiana Museum, Copenhagen; the Whitney and Guggenheim Museums, New York; the Moderner Kunst Museum, Vienna; and the Broad Art Foundation, Los Angeles. Gianni Mercurio, the show’s curator, is also well known for having organized other anthological shows for the Triennale di Milano, including those of works by Andy Warhol, Keith Haring, and Jean-Michael Basquiat.
His Lichtenstein retrospective will, for the first time, take stock of the works this Pop artist made by appropriating images from the history of modern art. This is the first time that a show will explore in a coherent and complete way this significant aspect of Lichtenstein’s work and highlight Postmodernism’s indebtedness to it. The exhibition, arranged thematically, begins with little-known works from the ‘fifties, many shown here for the first time. In them the artist “revisited” medieval iconographies, reinterpreted paintings by such American artists as William Ranney and such works as Washington Crossing the Delaware by the painter Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze (c.1851), and did so reusing the expressive styles of European abstraction and, above all, of Paul Klee and Picasso. In this phase of his production the artist mixed European Modernism with the vernacular of American history and culture: Indians and the Far West, scenes from the life of pioneers conquering the land, heroes and cowboys. In the heroic period of Pop Art, during the early ‘sixties Lichtenstein developed his own painterly language and style and began to make his own use of the works by artists from the more or less distant past. His reelaboration of works by Picasso, Matisse, Monet, Cézanne, Léger, Marc, Mondrian, Dalí, and Carrà, was inspired by mass-produced and widely diffused publications: this was a way of transferring (and reducing) the incomparable scope of painting to that of a commercialized “printed object”.
The various sections of the show include works inspired by the Cubism, Expressionism, Futurism, the Modernism of the ‘thirties, Action Painting, and to the genres of landscape and still life. The show will be completed by a 400-page full-color catalog published by Skira with, as well as an introductory text by the curator, critical essays by Gianni Mercurio, Demetrio Paparoni, Robert Pincus -Witten, Annabelle Ténèze, and Frederic Tuten. A selection of photos, for the most part previously unpublished, as well as a documentary about the artist’s life specially filmed for the occasion, will round the exhibition off. The catalogue will be published in editions in Italian, English, and German.