NEW YORK, NY.- Gagosian Gallery
presents "Roy Lichtenstein: Still Lifes," the first exhibition devoted solely to Lichtenstein's still life paintings, sculptures and drawings, which span from 1972 through the early 1980s.
Although Lichtenstein will always be synonymous with Pop Art, he continued to make inventive new work for almost three decades beyond the 1960s, during which he had become famous for his distinctive use of popular cartoon images and commercial painting style. Beginning in 1972, he began to work on still lifes, making his own updated contribution to the venerated historical genre, using hard, vivid color and simulated Ben-Day dots, laboriously painted by hand. Lichtenstein rendered his Still Lifes in flat, outlined shapes that were inspired by newspaper and print advertisements and painted to look like the originals. Frequently his evocations of mechanical reproduction were more pronounced than in the original source; even when adapting motifs from other artists' works, Lichtenstein used postcards or reproductions of the original rather than the original itself.
Lichtenstein's Still Lifes cover a variety of motifs and themes, including the most traditional such as fruit, flowers, and vases. He also created still lifes from contemporary vernacular subjects, including the intentionally banal Office Still Lifes, as well as from the contents of his own studio. During the 1970s he began to quote art-historical styles as well as his own previous works, for instance rendering his subject in a way that conflated Cubist or Expressionist style with his own signature technique. Using his "cartoonish" method of painting, he stripped both subjects and movements of their original import and gravitas. He also mined the modern masters of painting -- from Matisse to Leger, Gris, and Raphael Peale, among others for still life motifs, which he included in paintings or used alone in sculptures.
This exhibition brings together more than fifty Still Life paintings and sculptures from prominent private collections and museums worldwide, and it includes a selection of rarely seen Still Life drawings, many of which are precise sketches for the paintings and sculptures.
A fully illustrated catalogue will accompany the exhibition, featuring an essay by John Wilmerding, Professor of American Art at Princeton University, a photographic contribution by artist Louise Lawler, and an interview with collector and dealer Joe Helman.
Roy Lichtenstein was born in 1923 in New York, where he died in 1997. His work has been exhibited extensively worldwide. Recent retrospective surveys include "All About Art," Louisiana Museum, Humelbaek (2003, traveled to the Hayward Gallery, London, Museo Reina Sofia, Madrid, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art through 2005); and "Classic of the New", Kunsthaus Bregenz (2005). "Roy Lichtenstein: Meditations on Art" is currently on view at the Museo Triennale, Milan through May 30 and will travel to the Ludwig Museum, Cologne in July of this year. A major retrospective co-organized by the Art Institute of Chicago and Tate Modern, London is planned for 2012.