Saturday, September 12, 2009

Roy Lichtenstein ~ Brushstrokes, 1996

Standing nearly thirty feet tall, Brushstrokes, 96 by Roy Lichtenstein has graced the plaza area of the Portland Art Museum since the Mark Building was opened in 2005. The Lichtenstein Foundation website describes the acquisition and has this to say about the sculpture.
Brushstrokes is one of a series of heroic-scaled sculptures that Roy Lichtenstein created in the last decades of his life. Conceptually a reinvention of the 2-D gestural brushstroke as a three-dimensional sculpture, Lichtenstein was working in response to his own early career as an Abstract Expressionist painter and the painterly brushwork of DeKooning. The brushwork-themed work can be seen as the artist's satirical assault on the conventions of Abstract Expressionism-with playful references to everything from Surrealism to the still life painting of Paul C├ęzanne.

Not everyone knows that before Roy Lichtenstein ventured into the world of Pop art, he had painted in an Abstract Expressionist style as mentioned in the quote above. Shown on the left is Variation #7 from 1959. This painting as well as Drowning Girl, 1986 and Figures in Landscape, 1985 below are indicative that Lichtenstein still had one foot in the abstract world as he explored Pop Art. These paintings as well as a number of others of his works are included in a Charlie Rose interview from 2002. Bonnie Clearwater, Dorothy Lichtenstein and Jeff Koons joined Rose on January 7, 2002 to discuss Lichtenstein's life and work – the fifteen minute video can be found here.

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