The Roy Lichtenstein Foundation has announced the first round of gifts of 186 artworks and reference materials to museums in the United States and abroad to mark the centenary of Roy Lichtenstein‘s birth.
Receiving prints, drawings, sculpture, paintings, and archival films by Lichtenstein are the Albertina in Vienna, Austria; the Colby College Museum of Art in Waterville, Maine; the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City.
Observances of the centenary already have begun, with the U.S. Postal Service ceremonially unveiling the first-day issue of a set of Roy Lichtenstein postage stamps on April 24, 2023. The centenary will begin officially on October 27th, 2023, which would have been the artist’s 100th birthday.
Jack Cowart, Executive Director of the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation, said,
We are delighted to get an early start on the centenary by making gifts of art to these five outstanding museums, each of which has a history of sharing Lichtenstein’s work with the public. Together, these institutions speak to aspects of Lichtenstein’s art that we want to emphasize throughout this anniversary: its wit and accessibility, its classical rigor and studiousness, its laser-sharp view of social and political issues and eternally youthful inventiveness. As we move forward with our centenary celebration there will be additional gifts and programs through the next year or two. We are deeply grateful to Dorothy Lichtenstein, our Board Chair Ruth Fine, and all our Trustees for approving this sharing initiative.
Dorothy Lichtenstein, President of the Board of the Foundation, said,
Given his modesty, Roy might not have wanted to fuss over this anniversary, but I’m sure he would have been thrilled to know that in his hundredth year, his work looks as fresh, radical, and relevant as ever, and is now being honored as a permanent achievement. The spirit of generosity that ran through everything Roy did is the hallmark of these initial gifts, and we want it to run through the whole centenary.
The Albertina in Vienna has received 34 works on paper from the Foundation spanning the artist’s career, dating between 1948 and 1997. These include early woodcuts and linoleum cuts as well as later lithographs and screen prints. A selection of these works is already on view in Vienna in a current exhibition at Albertina Modern devoted to the art of modern and contemporary printmaking. The rest of the donation will provide the basis for a centennial celebration currently being planned by them for 2024.
TheColby College Museum of Art and the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, which co-organized the scholarly traveling exhibition Roy Lichtenstein: History in the Making, 1948-1960, have received an important joint gift of a seminal mixed media work, Composition (c. 1955), made of painted scrap wood, wood, bolts, and screws, which will be shared between the institutions. In addition, Colby is receiving two works on paper, four paintings, and one sculpture; and the Nasher is receiving two works on paper, five paintings, and one sculpture. These works from early in the artist’s career were created when Lichtenstein was evoking mythic narratives and archetypes on national themes, as seen in Washington Crossing the Delaware 1 (c. 1951) and Death of the General / Death of a General (c. 1951) gifted to Colby, and Washington Crossing the Delaware II (c. 1951) and Weatherford Surrenders to Jackson (c. 1953), gifted to the Nasher. The museums anticipate that these gifts will help advance their academic mission, opening new possibilities for multidisciplinary learning and research and student and public engagement.
The Whitney Museum of American Art, which holds the world’s largest study collection of Lichtenstein’s work thanks to the Foundation’s previous gifts, has received an additional 66 items. These include preparatory works related to Lichtenstein’s Times Square Mural and print process materials and rare drawings for his 1969-1970 Three Landscapes film, as well as numerous related archival film iterations. The new gifts join a Study Collection that already holds more than 400 works representing the full range of Lichtenstein’s career, spanning nearly 60 years, and reflecting the artist’s choice of subjects, working methods, and materials.
The Los Angeles County Museum of Art has been given an additional archive of 70 items relating to the historic 1969-1970 Three Landscapes film project. This multi-screen film, commissioned by LACMA, was conceived by Roy Lichtenstein working with filmmakers and was a core element in the museum’s groundbreaking exhibition “Art and Technology,” first presented as part of the U.S. Pavilion at the Japan World Exposition, Osaka (Expo 70) before being shown at LACMA in 1971.
About the Lichtenstein Centenary
Officially starting on the date that would have been Roy Lichtenstein’s 100th birthday, October 23, 2023, the Lichtenstein centenary will be observed by the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation through gifts, exhibitions, publications, and programs.
The Foundation is honored to have advised the U.S. Postal Service on its creation of the Roy Lichtenstein Centennial Commemorative Stamp Set, with five Forever stamps based on his iconic works. In autumn 2023, the Foundation will make available its catalogue raisonné of the artist’s work. Published online and freely accessible, the catalogue will illustrate every confirmed work, publishing in chronological order all known paintings, sculptures, drawings, prints, commissions and other artworks by Roy Lichtenstein, while also providing physical details, inscriptions and marks, and preparatory studies alongside provenance and new biographical, bibliographical and documentary information.
The Foundation also looks forward to celebrating the opening of the Whitney Museum of American Art’s first permanent home for its renowned Independent Study Program, which will be housed in Roy Lichtenstein’s former Greenwich Village studio and was a gift from Dorothy Lichtenstein.
Exhibitions about or including the artist during this centenary year will be announced at a later date
About the Lichtenstein Foundation
Established in 1999, the Foundation has the primary mission of facilitating public access to the work of Roy Lichtenstein and contemporary art, in general. Its activities have expanded to include rescuing and organizing the enormous and historically consequential Shunk-Kender and Harry Shunk Photography Collections and donating them to a consortium of five international museums/research centers; supporting the Aspen Institute National Study of Artist-Endowed Foundations; providing expertise to numerous Lichtenstein exhibitions; supporting numerous outreach and research topics, including artists’ materials and postwar art and art history; building a Study Collection of early Lichtenstein and later generative sketches, models, maquettes and artifacts; functioning as an image and information database for a broad range of art, art history and oral histories; and working with museums to enable them to acquire notable Lichtenstein artworks from the Foundation’s collection and the collections of others.