Washington, DC—Pop art was defined, refined, and ultimately blown wide open by American artist Roy Lichtenstein (1923–1997). In the first major exhibition since his death, Roy Lichtenstein: A Retrospective will include more than 100 of the artist’s greatest paintings from all periods of his career, along with a selection of related drawings and sculptures. On view in the East Building of the National Gallery of Art, Washington, from October 14, 2012, through January 13, 2013, the exhibition presents Lichtenstein’s expansive legacy, including the classic early pop paintings based on advertisements and comic-book treatments of war and romance, his versions of paintings by the modern masters, and series including Brushstrokes, Mirrors, Artist’s Studios, Nudes, and Chinese Landscapes.
Over the course of his career, Lichtenstein’s work has been the subject of more than 240 solo exhibitions, the last full survey having been organized by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in 1993.
The exhibition was organized by the Art Institute of Chicago, and Tate Modern, London, in association with the National Gallery of Art, Washington. Following the National Gallery presentation, the exhibition will be on view at Tate from February 21 through May 27, 2013. Centre Pompidou in Paris will host a smaller version of the exhibition from July 3 through November 4, 2013.
“With his unique combination of technical invention, deadpan humor, and cultural daring, Roy Lichtenstein moved the line between commercial and fine art and changed the way we look at our world. It is impossible to imagine contemporary art without his signature dots. We are delighted to be able to honor the career of this iconic artist with this major exhibition,” said Earl A. Powell III, director, National Gallery of Art, Washington. “This retrospective will allow our visitors to revisit Lichtenstein’s familiar works and examine those rarely seen. Given his use of art history in so much of his work, the exhibition at the Gallery puts this 20th-century master in a broader context.”
Bank of America is proud to be the global sponsor. The Robert and Mercedes Eichholz Foundation is the foundation sponsor. The exhibition is made possible by Altria Group. The Exhibition Circle of the National Gallery of Art is also supporting the exhibition. It is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.
Although many pop artists explored similar subject matter, what distinguished Lichtenstein was his use of hand-painted yet mechanical-looking dots to create areas of tone and color, which would eventually become his signature technique. The National Gallery’s own Look Mickey (1961) is an early example of this method and will open the exhibition. Considered by Lichtenstein to be his first pop painting (which he donated, with Dorothy Lichtenstein, in 1990 in honor of the Gallery’s 50th anniversary), Look Mickey pioneered the artist’s now-famous combination of comic-book themes and the look of commercial printing processes.
The exhibition will be arranged chronologically and thematically, allowing for a comprehensive understanding of Lichtenstein’s work.