The Art Institute is gearing up for the first major exhibition of works by Roy Lichtenstein in nearly twenty years. Opening May 16, Roy Lichtenstein: A Retrospective presents paintings, sculpture, drawings, collage, and film, produced from 1950 until the artist’s death in 1997, and spans Lichtenstein’s complete oeuvre, from pre-Pop expressionism to the Chinese landscapes of his later practice. While some may be familiar with Lichtenstein’s use of comic book imagery, lesser known is Lichtenstein’s career-long fascination with art historical genres and subjects.
Like many artists from his era, Lichtenstein was still a student when he discovered the works of Modernists from the previous generation, particularly those of Picasso and Matisse. Lichtenstein was inspired by works of his favorite painters as early as 1962, when he painted a version of Picasso’s Femme au chapeau. It’s interesting how Lichtenstein’s use of source material, from comics to masterworks, leaves no room in his work for value distinctions between so-called high and low culture. He approaches them both with the same rigorous attention to detail and holds neither so sacred as to leave them unmarked by his own aesthetic interests. Take a first look at some of the works to be included in this highly anticipated show, coupled with iconic works from the Art Institute’s collection.