press release

The exhibition presents a selection of 97 works created between 1966 and 1997 by Roy Lichtenstein (1923-1997) who, together with Andy Warhol, was one of the major exponents of American Pop Art. Organized in collaboration with the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation in New York and curated by Jack Cowart, this exhibition, for the first time, offers a complete and unedited vision of the different stages of the artist’s work process. Roy Lichtenstein: Beginning to End completes and expands upon the smaller exhibition presented in 2005 and 2006 at the Fundación Juan March’s Museo de Arte Abstracto Español in Cuenca and the Museu d’Art Espanyol Contemporani in Palma. Titled Lichtenstein, In Process, that exhibition revealed the intermediate phase of the artist’s work process, related to his sketches, drawings and collages. This new exhibition goes further and seeks to reconstruct the distinct phases of the artist’s creation in its totality and evidence its evolution from his sources of inspiration to the final consequences – the completed works – revealing Lichtenstein’s incessant search among the different pathways of art. They are routes that at first appear mysterious but that are gradually revealed by the very process of creation and development in the artist’s work over a span of four decades.

The works, loaned by the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation, New York; Fondation Beyeler, Riehen/Basel; The Eli and Edyth L. Broad Collection, Los Angeles; and other private collections, offer scenarios that reveal Lichtenstein’s sources: there are popular figures from the cartoon world such as Dagwood, Tintin and Donald Duck. There are protagonists from girls’ comics like Girls’ Romances, Heart Throbs and Secret Hearts, or true classic symbols such as the Hellenistic Laocöon, landscapes by van Gogh and Cézanne, bathers and portraits by Picasso, nudes and interiors by Matisse, Monet’s waterlilies and Brancusi’s endless column. There are also diverse themes from art history, such as the landscapes of Chinese painting, still lifes and studio models, representations of interiors – that also allude to the artist’s own interiority – and exteriors that refer to the public domain. They are references with which Lichtenstein dialogues, and to which he pays, with his characteristic appropriations, particular homage, thus managing to popularize themes of high culture, integrating it with the images from mass media and opening a pathway to new readings and perspectives.

In addition, the exhibition includes a film that Lichtenstein made in 1970, commissioned by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art within the framework of an arts and technology program developed between 1967 and 1971, and on which artists and advanced technology industries collaborated. With the help of Universal Film Studios, Lichtenstein conceived of, and produced, a film of marine landscapes, directly related to a series of collages with landscape themes he created between 1964 and 1966, one of which also forms a part of our display.

The exhibition, moreover, is accompanied by screenings of The Drawings of Roy Lichtenstein, 1961-1986, and Roy Lichtenstein: Reflections, two documentaries produced in 1987 and 1993, respectively, by the Checkerboard Foundation, Inc., New York.

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Roy Lichtenstein