The Whitney Museum of American Art has been promised a gift of over 400 works by Roy Lichtenstein (1923–1997), making way for the creation of the largest study collection of Roy Lichtenstein's art in the world, the museum announced yesterday.
Through an agreement forged between the museum and the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation, the two organizations will be tied into a close and ongoing partnership. The gift has allowed for the creation of the Roy Lichtenstein Study Collection as well as for new partnership possibilities for the Whitney in terms of exhibition, scholarship, and conservation, according to the museum.
“We are delighted to join with the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation in this groundbreaking collaboration," stated Adam D. Weinberg, the Whitney’s Alice Pratt Brown Director. "The creation of the Roy Lichtenstein Study Collection, thanks to the great generosity of Dorothy Lichtenstein and the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation, will give future generations the opportunity to see and study the full range of Roy’s work, spanning nearly sixty years."
"The Whitney’s connection to Roy’s work dates back to 1965, and we have presented his art in dozens of exhibitions," Weinberg continued. "We are thrilled that this gift will enable the Whitney to deepen the knowledge and appreciation of the art of this singularly inventive and incomparable American artist, one of the seminal figures in the history of American art."
Jack Cowart, Executive Director of the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation, commented, “The Lichtenstein Foundation initiated this partnership, which entails the transfer of substantial bodies of artwork to the Whitney. We were looking for a hub so that the range of Roy’s subjects, working methods, and materials could be held in a central place and be available to the public, scholars, and artists. The Whitney was an ideal choice, and we look forward to growing the collection in the years to come."
"Furthermore, our hope is that the Lichtenstein studio, just a few blocks from the Museum, will eventually go to the Whitney, enabling the Museum to enrich connections to living artists as well as those of Roy’s generation," Coward stated. "We look forward to collaborating on extensive programming there, a project that is already underway.”
Roy Lichtenstein Study Collection
The new partnership and promised gift establishes The Roy Lichtenstein Study Collection made up of over 400 examples of Lichtenstein’s work in all media and from all periods of his working career, from the early 1940s to the artist’s death in 1997.
The Study Collection traces the development of Lichtenstein’s process, from source material to sketch, drawing, collage, painting, print, and sculpture. In addition, the collection will include photographs, tracings, collages and maquettes by the artist as well as studio materials selected to represent Lichtenstein’s artistic practice and process, according to the announcement.
Through the art in the Collection, a number of themes to which Lichtenstein returned to repeatedly will be reflected. Themes include Abstractions, the American Indian, Americana, Architecture, Brushstrokes, Landscapes and Seascapes, Mirrors and Reflections, “Modern Art,” Murals, “Perfects” and “Imperfects,” Pop, Still Lifes and Interiors, and Women and Nudes.
Promised Art Works
The art in the promised gift to the Whitney include Untitled, an oil on canvas from c. 1959–60; Man with Chest Expander, a drawing from c. 1961; Bell, a 1963 oil on canvas; Sea Shore, 1964, painted in oil and Magna on the back of multiple, layered sheets of Plexiglas; Head of Girl, a 1964 painted ceramic sculpture; the print Sweet Dreams Baby!,1965; Artist’s Studio “Look Mickey” (Study), a 1973 drawing; the 1977 painted wood sculpture, Lamp.
Also, The Conversation (Study), a c. 1984 collage; Painting, Green Brushstrokes, 1984; the monumental sculpture Coups de Pinceau, 1988/2011; the 1988 Imperfect Painting; Woman: Sunlight, Moonlight (Model), a 1996 wood sculpture; Bellagio Hotel Mural: Still Life with Reclining Nude (Study), a 1997 collage; and, among numerous other prints.
Completed sets that are part of the gift include the 1973 "Bull Profile" and "Bull Head"series, the 1974 "Six Still Lifes" series, the 1980 "American Indian Theme" series, the 1986–88 “Imperfect” series, the 1990–91 "Interior" series, and the 1992 La Nouvelle Chute de L’Amerique (The New Fall of America) suite.
The Whitney & Roy Lichtenstein
The Whitney and Roy Lichtenstein have a long history.
The Whitney first exhibited Lichtenstein’s work in "Decade of American Drawing 1955–1965"(1965) and later that year the artist presented Red and White Brushstrokes (1965) in the Whitney’s Annual of Contemporary Painting. His work was subsequently exhibited in seven Annuals and Biennials as well as in fifty-nine thematic, group, and one-person exhibitions, and collection installations.
Lichtenstein art has been exhibited at The Whitney in shows presented from 1974 to the present day including "American Pop Art" (1974); "Roy Lichtenstein, 1970–1980" (1981); "BLAM! The Explosion of Pop, Minimalism and Performance, 1958–1964" (1984); "Image World: Art and Media Culture" (1989); "Hand Painted Pop: American Art in Transition (1993)"; "Picasso and American Art" (2006); "Three Landscapes: A Film Installation by Roy Lichtenstein" (2011); "Sinister Pop" (2012); and in the Museum’s inaugural exhibition downtown, "America Is Hard to See" (2015). Currently, Lichtenstein’s work is included in the exhibition "Where We Are," on view at the Whitney through the end of the year.
In 1966, the Museum acquired its first Lichtenstein painting, Little Big Painting (1965), and its first sculpture in 1969, Modern Sculpture with Velvet Rope (1968). At the time of the promised gift, the Whitney owned 26 Lichtenstein works, including paintings, sculptures, prints, drawings, and the film installation Three Landscapes (1970–71), which was donated to the Museum by Dorothy Lichtenstein in 2013.
It is expected that the Roy Lichtenstein Study Collection will be processed and catalogued over the course of the next year and will be available to scholars by appointment thereafter.
Programming with the Lichtenstein Studio
“How to Look,” an art course planned for fall 2018, will include a visit to the Lichtenstein studio with art historian and Lichtenstein scholar Michael Lobel.
In spring 2019, Carol Mancusi-Ungaro, the Whitney’s Melva Bucksbaum Associate Director for Conservation and Research, will invite U.S. and international conservation colleagues who have deep experience conserving Lichtenstein objects for a think tank with the Whitney conservation team and staff of the Lichtenstein Foundation.
In addition, a tour of downtown artist studios will include Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney’s former studio on West 8th Street, a visit to the studio of an artist living in the neighborhood, and the Lichtenstein studio. This event, in spring 2019, is part of Jane’s Walk, an annual walking tour organized in honor of Jane Jacobs.
Collection to be Digitized
At the same time as the gift to the Whitney, the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation has also entered into a partnership with the Archives of American Art, part of the Smithsonian Institution. The comprehensive Lichtenstein Foundation archives, incorporating the artist’s voluminous studio working records, will be digitized in collaboration with the Archives of American Art and then gifted to the Archives in stages, according to the announcement.
Access to this material will be free and open to all on the Archives’ website, and the digitized collections will constitute the most complete research resource anywhere on the art and life of Roy Lichtenstein. Among the materials being digitized are oral histories and artist interviews, art object files, the audiovisual collection, personal and professional correspondence, exhibition files and thousands of documentary photographs of the artist, his art and exhibition installations.
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