Art Institute of Chicago hosts Lichtenstein show

CHICAGO (AP) — Nearly 15 years after his death, fans of pop artist Roy Lichtenstein can take in a comprehensive exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago that spans his famous cartoons from the 1960s to more muted Asian-inspired works from the 1990s.

The exhibit opens with the 1961 work "Look Mickey, I've Hooked a Big One!!" The piece, a riff on Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck in bright blue, red and yellow, is considered a landmark that helped transform the perception of commercial art into fine art, while placing Lichtenstein, along with Andy Warhol, at the forefront of the Pop Art movement.

"Roy Lichtenstein: A Retrospective" is the "first major retrospective to broadly examine his art since his death," according to the museum. The exhibition includes nearly 170 paintings, sculptures and drawings done between 1950 and his death in 1997 at age 73.

It opened in May and will stay in Chicago through Sept. 3. It will travel to Washington, London and Paris over the next year.

The works include established, well-known pieces as well as pictures that have rarely been seen. Among them are Lichtenstein's interpretations of everyday objects: a ball of twine, a hot dog or a wedding ring.

"Roy was able to transform them and show them to us again in a new way," said James Rondeau, the exhibit's co-curator. "He was able to show us something new about the world in which we live and about ourselves and how we see the world."

Over the years, Lichtenstein also did paintings of mirrors, of brush strokes, of interiors, re-interpretations of works by Picasso, Mondrian, Leger, Monet and Cezanne. Meanwhile his originals sold for millions.

Many of the works feature signature bold black outlines and use of Ben-Day dots, the small colored dots used in comic books, named for printer Benjamin Henry Day. Lichtenstein reproduced the dots used in comic strips by laying a metal screen over his canvas, spreading paint with a roller and rubbing it in with a toothbrush.

Jack Cowart, executive director of The Roy Lichtenstein Foundation, said the retrospective exposes the intricacy of Lichtenstein's art. "This is all about a career that is much more complex than people would have thought previously," Cowart said.

Lichtenstein's widow, Dorothy Lichtenstein, previewed the exhibit, saying that even she hadn't seen some of the works since the 1960s. She said she wants the show to give people a broader appreciation for her late husband's work.

"I hope people come away realizing that he did more than some cartoon frames," Lichtenstein said.


If You Go...

ROY LICHTENSTEIN: A RETROSPECTIVE: Through Sept. 3 at the Art Institute of Chicago, 111 S. Michigan Ave., or 312-443-3600. Open daily 10:30 a.m.-5 p.m. and Thursday until 8 p.m. Adults, $18; children 14 and over, students and seniors 65 and over, $12. The exhibit will be on display at the National Gallery of Art in Washington from Oct. 14 to Jan. 6, 2013; the Tate Modern in London from Feb. 21, 2013, to May 27, 2013; and the Centre Pompidou in Paris from July 3, 2013, to Nov. 4, 2013.