The main exhibition at Louisiana this fall is a large-scale presentation of the American Pop artist Roy Lichtenstein. The exhibition will be the first comprehensive presentation of the artist’s work in Scandinavia, including more than 50 paintings and as many drawings, spanning the period from 1961 to 1996.
Roy Lichtenstein is chiefly known as the Pop artist who enthusiastically adopted the comic-book universe. With a sure compositional hand, he transferred the icons of popular culture to his large canvases and thus – like Warhol – let the less respectable part of visual culture into the art institution.
The exhibition presented by Louisiana will demonstrate that this description of Roy Lichtenstein’s work is in itself a cliché. Much more goes on in the Lichtenstein universe than the mere citation of existing images. Lichtenstein’s work deals with art and the images of art by means of popular culture.
The exhibition shows Lichtenstein to be very much concerned with the true nature of visual communication. His work is an ongoing examination of the potentials of the image for conveying the fundamental stories of love and conflict, of intensity and emptiness, of space, reflection and surface - subjects that have been variously treated in painting for centuries.
Although conceived as a retrospective, the Roy Lichtenstein exhibition centres on certain themes that have in common the artist’s interest in how individual statements or acts, at the very moment they are made or carried out, become rhetorical. As soon as the individual perspective is released into the world, it becomes part of the common perception. Images thus standardize our experience of the world and each other; they become stock figures that are available to us in our dealings with the world. And Lichtenstein himself acts accordingly: few artists have developed a style as distinctive as his. He becomes his own trademark – a concept central to the view of Lichtenstein proposed by this exhibition.
It is the intention to illuminate these aspects of Roy Lichtenstein’s art and to point to the originality and intelligence of his images, the degree to which they go beyond the familiar story of our consumer culture’s advertisement universe and the perpetually paraphrasing artist rebelling against the conventional notion of originality.
A great many of Lichtenstein’s best known works will be on view – ranging from such early black-and-white paintings as ”Masterpiece”, ”Look Mickey”, ”M-Maybe” and ”Whaam!” via his ”brushstroke” paintings, landscapes and interiors to the artist’s most recent Japanese landscapes. They include works on loan from Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Zürich and the Tate in London; from Minneapolis, Washington, New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco, as well as from a number of private collectors.
The exhibition is curated by Louisiana’s director, Poul Erik Tøjner, and has come about through cooperation with the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation in New York. After the showing at Louisiana, the exhibition will travel to the Hayward Gallery, London, and the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid.