NEW YORK, N.Y.-
This fall, the Whitney Museum of American Art
presents Three Landscapes: A Film Installation by Roy Lichtenstein on view from October 6, 2011 to February 12, 2012. This cinematic triptych, the product of a partnership between Lichtenstein, Universal Studios, and Joel Freedman of Cinnamon Productions Inc., has been restored by the Whitney in close collaboration with the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation, and is being shown in its entirety and in its original 35mm film format for the first time. The exhibition is curated by Chrissie Iles, the Whitneys Anne & Joel Ehrenkranz Curator.
In 1968, Roy Lichtenstein (19231997), one of the leaders of American Pop art, was invited by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) to participate in their experimental Art and Technology program. Curated by Maurice Tuchman, the project placed artists from all over the world in residence with leading California-based industries, and exhibited the results of their collaborations. The artists included Lichtenstein, Claes Oldenburg, Robert Rauschenberg, Andy Warhol, Robert Whitman, and others.
Lichtenstein spent two weeks in residence at Universal Studios in Los Angeles in February 1969. After touring Universals film laboratories and special effects facilities, he decided to make film loops of sky and water, projected on several screens in the gallery. The idea for the films relates directly to a group of kinetic landscape collages that he made in the mid-1960s, which used Rowlux--a prismatic plastic--alongside metal, mylar, vinyl, and motors or motorized rotating light tubes painted with several colored strips of gel paint to suggest moving water and light.
Returning to New York, Lichtenstein filmed on Long Island, primarily in Montauk, working with independent filmmaker Joel Freedman. The resulting one-minute film loops collaged footage of the sea and a tropical fish tank with a static Benday-dot pattern and still images of a blue sky, clouds, and a seagull. The still and moving images are divided by a thick black line that echoes the comic-strip images of his paintings, and creates a horizon line that rocks back and forth. The heavy black horizon line and the endless repetition of Lichtensteins moving pictures produce a contradictory viewing experience, emphasizing the flatness of the picture plane while engaging the spectator in an ambient cinematic spectacle.
Lichtenstein hoped to make as many as fifteen film loops, but only three films were completed. Two were included in a showcase of Art and Technology collaborations in the U.S. Pavilion at the 1970 Worlds Fair in Osaka, Japan, and three were exhibited in the Art and Technology exhibition at LACMA in 1971 in 16mm format. Three Landscapes remains Lichtensteins first and only film.
About the Artist
A leading figure in twentieth-century American art, Roy Lichtenstein was born in New York City in 1923. He studied at New Yorks Art Students League in the summer of 1940 before enrolling at Ohio State University where he received his B.F.A. in 1946 and his M.F.A. in 1949. There, Lichtenstein began his career-long intrigues with ideas about visual perception, the odd signs and symbols of our modern culture, and an overarching desire to achieve compositional unity. In 1951, Lichtenstein had his first one-person show in New York. In 1962 he had his first solo show with the Leo Castelli Gallery in New York and soon became an internationally recognized leader of American Pop art with paintings using dramatically isolated images selected from serial war and romance comics and generic products, all depicted in primary colors and Benday dots, techniques and subjects borrowed from mass media. In the succeeding decade, he moved to Southampton, New York, and expanded his use of reproductions beyond advertising, postcard clichés, and comic books to encompass styles and movements in art history, architecture, and the decorative arts. In the 1980s, Lichtenstein returned to work in the city part-time, bringing with him an emphasis on expressive brushstrokes and artistic introspection. The decade also witnessed his completion of a number of public and private large-scale sculptural and painting projects.
Lichtensteins investigations of illusionism, abstraction, serialization, stylization, and appropriation continued in every media in the 1990s. As a distinguished painter, sculptor, and printmaker he received numerous honorary degrees and international prizes. He was awarded the National Medal of Arts in 1995. At age 73, he was investigating another new fabricated reality, so called virtual paintings. About to embark on a series of works based on Cézannes bathers, the artists explorations were cut short by his death from pneumonia in 1997. Two years later, the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation was established to advance the scholarship on his work.