Chicago is famed for its art. Wander around any street in the Loop and you’ll spot a work of art, be it any number of Miro sculptures that dominate the streets or the enormous Picasso in Daley Plaza, there’s always something to look at. And that’s what I found with this retrospective at the Art Institute of Chicago, with Lichtenstein you’re never at a loss for anything to look at.
Covering some of his most famous, and some more overlooked pieces of work, there is a wealth of where to start when it comes to Lichtenstein. He may be most well known as one of the forerunners of the Pop Art movement, but this exhibition delves so much deeper, highlighting lesser known pieces and show casing his experimentation into other art styles.
Starting the exhibition at the burgeoning popularity of Pop Art, with pieces like “Ohhh…Alright” (above) representative of what people perceive to be his signature style. By grouping these pieces together, the viewer is treated to the first hand experience of these works, with the chance to get up close to them and look at those in-numerous tiny dots that make up the images. Often referencing the themes of love and romance that crop up from time to time, Lichtenstein has managed to create images that forever remain culturally significant no matter what time period they are looked at.
“Nude Leaving”, seen above, is one of his later pieces of art, and sees a marked change in direction. Lichtenstein’s series of Nudes sees a departure from the expected comic book styling of his previous work and into a more adult style that verges on Cubism. If you ever get the chance to experience the exhibit, there are whole sections dedicated to his own interpretations of Cubism (which caused great fun at the institute today, trying to guess what he had crammed into his still life). And that’s what’s great about this exhibition, it really highlights the diversity in the work that the artist created during his life.
Alongside the paintings in the exhibit, there’s also a selection of sculptures that Lichtenstein created. “Sleeping Muse”, above, is based on a Brancusi sculpture as source material. As many of the works featured in the exhibition have varied source materials, the Chicago Art Institute have handily created a magical slider to experience the works featured, including the one above.
When faced with the sheer mass of the collection, its easy to understand how the man has become one of the most celebrated artists in history. While he may be lumped in amongst the Pop Art collective, this retrospective reveals a whole side to Lichtenstein’s art that is rarely considered, and a genuine treat.
Roy Lichtenstein: A Retrospective is on at the Art Institute of Chicago until September 3. For more information head here, where you can also download a tour of the exhibition just incase you can’t make the real thing!
Words: Emily Solan