NEW YORK, NY, June 6, 2018—The Roy Lichtenstein Foundation is pleased to announce the launch of two comprehensive, long-term collaborations, one with the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, and the other with the Smithsonian Institution Archives of American Art, Washington, DC, aimed at greatly facilitating public access to the art and history of Roy Lichtenstein as well as the art of his time. The Lichtenstein Foundation initiated the collaborations, which entail the transfer of substantial bodies of artwork and other materials from the Foundation to the two institutions. The Boards of the Foundation, the Whitney Museum, and the Archives of American Art have now approved the promised gifts and collections and are looking forward to a robust implementation of the relationships.
Dorothy Lichtenstein, President of the Foundation, remarks: “We feel privileged that all departments of the Whitney Museum and the Archives of American Art are so enthusiastic and have embraced our initial ideas. We have always intended that the Foundation, now almost twenty years old, would not operate in perpetuity and are delighted we can create a new way forward with our first set of chosen successor institutions, well before we ‘sunset.’ We will continue to refine and expand these projects and facilitate research opportunities. Furthermore, it is our long-range hope that Roy’s Washington Street studio would go to the Whitney as a venue for its extensive artistic and scholarly programming. We will be delighted if this proves to be a useful model for other artists and artists’ foundations, estates or trusts.”
At the Whitney Museum of American Art:
The agreement with the Whitney establishes The Roy Lichtenstein Study Collection, initiated with the promised gift from the Foundation of more than 400 examples of Lichtenstein’s work in all media and from all periods of his career (1940-1997). The collection comprises paintings, sculptures, prints, drawings, collages, maquettes, models, study photographs, and drawings by the artist plus studio materials selected to represent Lichtenstein’s artistic practice and process. In the coming years, the Foundation intends to donate additional and related works to the Whitney.
Select examples of the promised art gifts to the Whitney include: Pilot, 1948 [pastel]; Untitled, 1959 [painting]; Man with Chest Expander, c. 1961 [drawing]; Head of Girl, 1964 [sculpture]; Sweet Dreams, Baby!, 1965 [print]; Architecture Photograph, c. 1970 [artist source snapshot]; Artist’s Studio “Look Mickey” (Study), 1973 [drawing]; The Conversation (Study), 1984 [collage]; Painting: Green Brushstrokes, 1984; the monumental sculpture Coups de Pinceau, 1988/2011 (AP); Woman: Sunlight, Moonlight, 1996 [wood model]; and Bellagio Hotel Mural: Still Life with Reclining Nude (Study), 1997 [collage].
The Lichtenstein Studio, a short walk from the Whitney in the West Village, will host a series of public and specialized Whitney programs. These programs, initiated by the Whitney’s conservation, education, and curatorial departments are planned to begin in fall 2018.
Adam Weinberg, Alice Pratt Brown Director of the Whitney Museum of American Art, says: “The Whitney Museum has a long history of presenting and collecting Lichtenstein’s work. We are thrilled to be collaborating with the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation on this momentous initiative. The Roy Lichtenstein Study Collection at the Whitney was selected by a team of curators, conservators, archivists, and educators, led by David Breslin, DeMartini Family Curator and Director of the Collection, who were charged to think holistically about how this collection would better—and further—our understanding of Roy Lichtenstein, the art of his time, and the history of postwar American art. We’re profoundly grateful to Dorothy Lichtenstein, Jack Cowart, Executive Director of the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation, and Ruth Fine, Chair of the Foundation Board, for sharing their expertise and enthusiasm and for recognizing the shared spirit of inquiry, study, and care that unites the Whitney and the Lichtenstein Foundation. We look forward to working with the Archives of American Art and other institutions to bring this material to artists, students, scholars, and the public.”
At the Archives of American Art:
The comprehensive Lichtenstein Foundation archives, incorporating the artist’s voluminous studio working records, will be digitized in collaboration with the Archives of American Art and then gifted to the Archives in stages. Initial processing of these records, which in total comprise more than five hundred linear feet, has already begun. Access to this material will be free and open to all on the Archives’ website, and the digitized collections will constitute the most complete research resource anywhere on the art and life of Roy Lichtenstein. Among the materials being digitized and gifted to the Archives are oral histories and artist interviews, art object files, the audiovisual collection, personal and professional correspondence, exhibition files, and thousands of documentary photographs of the artist, his art, and exhibition installations.
Kate Haw, director of the Archives of American Art, says: “Roy Lichtenstein is indisputably one of the most important American artists of the 20th century, and we are enormously proud that the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation has entrusted the Archives of American Art with playing such an important role in preserving and expanding his legacy with this extraordinary pledge. Accessibility to the collection on the Archives’ website will create greater opportunities for a wide community of researchers to bring new perspectives to the study and appreciation of the artist, his oeuvre, and his time. Our work with the Lichtenstein Foundation, and especially their archival team led by the Foundation’s Head of Archives, Justin Brancato, over the past few years to come to this agreement has been so rewarding, and the result is an exemplary model for our field.”
The Foundation Future:
Jack Cowart, Executive Director of the Foundation, adds: “The Foundation’s charitable purpose is to facilitate public access to the work of Roy Lichtenstein and we want to further expand our focus on this in the coming years. We look forward to moving works from our storages to public institutions as well as sharing our vast archives and finishing our major catalogue raisonné. These first substantial commitments of key elements of Lichtenstein’s art history and studio practice to the Whitney and the Archives (and the years needed to implement them fully) will be fascinating in themselves. But, as a bonus, we can now start thinking about subsequent long-range donations of Lichtenstein works and materials to selected museums in America and Europe. We would hope to establish various groupings around specific aspects of Roy’s history, work, and process. The Board and family support this mission and we all look forward to compiling these research packages and to building institutional relationships in the coming years.”
About the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation
Opened in 1999, the Foundation’s primary mission is to facilitate public access to the work of Roy Lichtenstein and contemporary art, in general. The Foundation continues research for its production of a web-based catalogue raisonné of all Lichtenstein work. It has previously created the Harry Shunk-Janos Kender Photography Collection when the Foundation was able to rescue and preserve the enormous Harry Shunk estate photography holdings. These crucial visual documents of European and American 1960s/1970s artist actions and performances, exhibitions, and artists working in their studios were fully archived and subsequently donated to the Getty Research Institute, the Museum of Modern Art, the National Gallery of Art, Tate, and Centre Georges Pompidou. Additional collaborations are still being planned for both Shunk-Kender materials as well as the Foundation’s holdings of Roy Lichtenstein.
About the Whitney Museum of Art
The Whitney Museum of American Art was founded in 1930 by the artist and philanthropist Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney (1875–1942). The Whitney and Roy Lichtenstein have a distinguished history. The Museum first exhibited Lichtenstein’s work in Decade of American Drawing 1955-1965 (1965) and later that year the artist presented Red and White Brushstrokes (1965) in the Whitney’s Annual of Contemporary Painting. His works were subsequently exhibited in seven Annuals and Biennials as well as fifty-nine thematic, group, and one-person exhibitions and collection installations, to include the most recent, the inaugural exhibition at the Whitney’s new downtown location, America is Hard to See (2015).
In 1966, the Museum acquired its first Lichtenstein painting, Little Big Painting (1965), and in 1969 its first sculpture, Modern Sculpture with Velvet Rope (1968). Prior to receipt of hundreds of objects in The Roy Lichtenstein Study Collection, the Whitney collection held twenty-six Lichtenstein works, including paintings, sculptures, prints, drawings, and the film installation Three Landscapes (1970-71).
About the Archives of American Art
Founded in 1954, the Archives of American Art fosters advanced research through the accumulation and dissemination of primary sources, unequaled in historical depth and breadth, that document more than 200 years of the nation’s artists and art communities. The Archives provides access to these materials through its exhibitions and publications, including Archives of American Art Journal, the longest-running scholarly journal in the field of American art. An international leader in the digitizing of archival collections, the Archives also makes nearly 3 million images freely available online. The oral history collection includes more than 2,400 audio interviews, the largest accumulation of in-depth, first-person accounts of the American art world. Included among these is a nearly five-hour interview with Roy Lichtenstein conducted in 1963-64. The 2018 donation of the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation archives will greatly amplify the material about Lichtenstein currently in the Archives’ collections, including records from the Leo Castelli Gallery digitized in 2016 thanks to the Foundation’s support.
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