This month sees the opening of “Lichtenstein: A Retrospective”at the Tate Modern. Featuring more than 125 of Roy Lichtenstein’s works, it’s one of the most comprehensive collections of the American pop artist ever staged and the first since his death in 1997.
This huge exhibit, a collaboration between the London gallery and The Art Institute of Chicago, received very favourable reviews when it ran in the Windy City between May and September of 2012. From Three Landscapes, the only film Lichtenstein ever made, to his re-creations of the work of great 20th-century artists like Picasso and Matisse, this show explores elements of the artist’s practice that present him in a dazzling new light.
The new collection, which shows through May 27, isn’t entirely composed of novelties, of course. No Lichtenstein show would be complete without his cartoon-inspired Benday dot paintings, which are some of the most recognizable images in modern art history. By putting these works in context, in both socio-political and stylistic terms, a greater depth of understanding is made possible.
A particularly special inclusion is Look Mickey, the painting that marked the beginning of Lichtenstein’s experiments with images from pop culture. This first work wasn’t exhibited publicly until nearly two decades after the artist painted it at the age of 37, but it nevertheless signaled an important moment in the development of Lichtenstein’s signature style.
Other works to watch out for in the showing include the artist’s late nudes — painted not from life, but as imaginings of what women in comic books would look like with their clothes off — his Chinese-inspired landscapes and the Perfect/Imperfect paintings, Lichtenstein’s unusual experiments with abstraction.
Photos Courtesy of Tate Modern