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Roy Lichtenstein:  American Indian Encounters

October 16, 2005 - January 8, 2006


(above: Roy Lichtenstein, Death of Jane McCrea, 1951, oil on canvas. Lent by Lee Turner, P.A.)

Roy Lichtenstein: American Indian Encounters, presented by the Blanche and Irving Laurie Foundation, premiers at the Montclair Art Museum (MAM) Sunday, October 16, 2005 and will be on view through January 8, 2006. The exhibition will travel to four additional venues across the United States.  American Indian Encounters will feature an extraordinary selection of virtually unknown works by Roy Lichtenstein (1923 - 1997), one of the best-known American artists to emerge after 1960. It will bring together over thirty paintings, prints, drawings, and sculptures, including a rare sketchbook of American Indian design motifs, thereby juxtaposing two lesser-known periods of Lichtenstein's art-the Cubist abstractions based on 19th century American history paintings of Native American themes, and the "Amerindian" Pop-style works from 1979-1981.(right: Roy Lichtenstein, The End of the Trail, 1952, gouache, watercolor, crayon on paper. © Estate of Roy Lichtenstein) 

MAM's Chief Curator, Gail Stavitsky and Curator of Native American Art, Twig Johnson have collaborated with the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation to research, record, and present new information and materials that provide refreshing insight into the artists, artworks and cultures that prompted Lichtenstein to create two unique and distinct periods of Native American-inspired artwork. A 90 page catalogue will accompany the exhibition.

The show will survey early works from the 1950's that reflect Lichtenstein's interests in European modernism (Picasso, Miro, Klee) and such 19th century sources as the Swiss painter Karl Bodmer, the German artist Albert Bierstadt, and the American painter John Vanderlyn.The exhibition research has revealed that Lichtenstein was inspired to launch this series when he borrowed a book about George Catlin, the first artist to travel extensively among the tribal peoples of the American West during the 1830s. Lichtenstein himself characterized these works as, "mostly reinterpretations of those artists concerned with the opening of the West, such as Remington, with a subject matter of cowboys, Indians, treaty signings, a sort of Western official art in a style broadly influenced by modern European painting."

The pop-style works from the 1970s were partially stimulated by Lichtenstein's experiences in Southampton, NY residing near a Shinnecock Indian reservation where he and his wife Dorothy attended pow wows (as revealed in a recent interview). His friendships with the dealers Jonathan Holstein and Tony Berlant, as well as his acquisition of several American Indian objects played a significant role, as did his personal library of 17 books and catalogues on Native American art. According to Lichtenstein, "They're a mixture of every kind of Indian design from Northwest Indians to Plains Indians to Pueblo.  They are no particular tribe of Indians....anything that I could think of that was 'Indian' got into them....the cliché of the Indian got into them." Related Native American art and artifacts from the Lichtenstein Foundation and primarily from the Montclair Art Museum's own Native American holdings will accompany this exhibition, serving as examples of the sources of Lichtenstein's inspiration.  (left: Roy Lichtenstein, Amerind Figure, 1981, patinated bronze, 65 1/2 x 20 1/2 x 13 1/2 inches. © Estate of Roy Lichtenstein)


About the Artist

Born in 1923 in New York City, Roy Lichtenstein had his first solo exhibition in New York City in 1951. By 1962, Lichtenstein was showing at the prestigious Leo Castelli Gallery, where he exhibited his signature comic strip paintings. These works were soon recognized as the beginning of Pop painting and propelled Lichtenstein to the high level of popular and critical success he enjoyed for the rest of his career. Working until the time of his death in 1997, Lichtenstein created a unique and broad range of painting and sculpture that continues to have a profound effect on the artists of today.


Traveling Itinerary

February 2- April 22, 2006
Museum of Fine Arts, Santa Fe
May 13-September 4, 2006
Tacoma Art Museum, Tacoma, Washington
September 30-December 31, 2006
The Parrish Art Museum, Southampton, Long Island
January 19-April 18, 2007
Eiteljorg Museum, Indianapolis, Indiana 


Roy Lichtenstein: American Indian Encounters, presented by the Blanche and Irving Laurie Foundation, is organized by the Montclair Art Museum in conjunction with the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation. The exhibition is supported by a generous grant from the Blanche and Irving Laurie Foundation, and from the following Exhibition Angels: Anonymous and Gregg Seibert. The exhibition catalogueis being supported in part by a grant from the Karma Foundation. (right: Roy Lichtenstein, Amerind Landscape, 1979, wool tapestry, 108 x 146 inches. © Estate of Roy Lichtenstein)

The Blanche and Irving Laurie Foundation celebrates its 22nd anniversary this year.  Since its inception in 1983 the Foundation has distributed more than $35,000,000 to charitable organizations serving the community in the Foundation's major interest areas of the arts, education, human needs and a variety of Jewish causes. The Foundation is equally proud of its collaborative efforts with its philanthropic partners in the design and evaluation of its grants, in the nurturing of a shared commitment to the task at hand, and to the overall institutional growth of the supported organizations. While the Foundation has concentrated its grant making activities in New Jersey, substantial attention has been paid to the support of major cultural institutions outside of New Jersey whose programming activities enhance the lives of residents of the region. In addition to presenting the Montclair Art Museum's Roy Lichtenstein: American Indian Encounters exhibition this year, the Foundation's program of cultural support also includes the Roundabout Theatre's production of The Threepenny Opera, Lincoln Center Theatre's production of Wendy Wasserstein's Third, WNET's American Masters series, and City Center's Encores! Series.  The Foundation was gratified to have been selected as the Outstanding Foundation of 2004 by the New Jersey Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals.


RL readers may enjoy these earlier articles and essays:

and from other websites

and this book by Lawrence Alloway:

Roy Lichtenstein, By Lawrence Alloway, Published 1987, ISBN: 978-0-89659-331-2. (online book excerpt available from Abbeville Press) (right: catalogue front cover courtesy Abbeville Press)


rev. 4/2/08

Read more articles and essays concerning this institutional source by visiting the sub-index page for the Montclair Art Museum in Resource Library.

TFAO also suggests these DVD or VHS videos:

Drawings of Roy Lichtenstein, 1961-1986, The. Produced in 1986 on the occasion of an exhibition at New York's Museum of Modern Art, this 20 minute Edgar B. Howard/Seth Schneidman video provides a useful overview of the work of this seminal pop artist. Bernice Rose, who curated the exhibition, explains Lichtenstein's styles in different periods, and the artist himself discusses his approach. "This video was produced on the occasion of an exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. It provides a useful overview to the work of this seminal Pop artist, and it also gets behind the sometimes impenetrably slick surfaces of Lichtenstein's canvases and prints, to show how such works have their genesis... Lichtenstein starts out drawing freehand, and the video shows many examples of his sketches that he later refines into finished paintings. Lichtenstein says about drawings, "It's a way of describing my thoughts as quickly as possible," and those thoughts are often on art history." (video available through Checkerboard Film Foundation, quote from Checkerboard Film Foundation)

Lichtenstein in London: 21 minutes 1968. "By blending actual film of people viewing Roy Lichtenstein's works with comments by them at a 1968 opening in London, this video gives an often humorous slant by revealing just how people react to art. As well, comments by the artist are included to give serious insight into Lichtenstein's approaches as a major force in Pop Art and graphics oriented painting and sculpture."

Making Art "This DVD collection of six video presentations filmed in studios, laboratories, and museum galleries provides rare behind-the-scenes experiences. It introduces art elements such as color and perspective; demonstrates artistic techniques ranging from sculpture to printmaking; and studies conservation issues related to art objects. Artists interviewed include Sam Gilliam, Roy Lichtenstein, and Sean Scully, each at work making art." This DVD is lent free of charge through the National Gallery of Art's Division of Education (go to NGA Loan Materials). Titles are available separately and include:
Seeing Color: Object, Light, Observer (27 minutes)
Masters of Illusion (30 minutes)
Art + Science = Conservation (19 minutes)
Introduction to Sculpture (19 minutes)
James McNeill Whistler: His Etchings (27 minutes)
Roy Lichtenstein: The Art of the Graphic Image (25 minutes)

Roy Lichtenstein. A rare Interview with the influential American artist Roy Lichtensteln. one of Pop Art's pioneers. Lichtenstein talks In a 55 minute interview about his current work, the Pop explosion and the history of Westem Art. VHS/ DVD.

Roy Lichtenstein (Portrait of an Artist) is a 49 minute video directed by Chris Hunt and produced in 1991 by Iambic Productions for RM Arts; London Weekend Television; RM Arts. The artist talks about his use of cartoon images, his homage to art history, and his magnified brush strokes theme.

Roy Lichtenstein: Reflections. In this 30 minute 1993 program Roy Lichtenstein offers exciting insights into the artistic process and the source of inspiration. "This video features one of the great pop artists of our time discussing his work, his artistic process, and the sources of his inspiration. Done on location in New York City, Southampton, Long Island, Los Angeles, and Rome, this film features Lichtenstein's large-scale murals, his Reflections series, and his recent Interior series. Conversations with leading authorities on contemporary art complete this portrait of an artist who rose to fame in the 1960s and continues to create art on the cutting edge."

Roy Lichtenstein: The Art of the Graphic Image is a 25 minute National Gallery of Art video. "Renowned pop artist Roy Lichtenstein discusses his printmaking career over the course of two decades. This is an intimate glimpse of the artist at work, both in his own studios and at two of the most innovative printmaking workshops in the United States-Gemini G.E.L., California, and Tyler Graphics Ltd., New York." This DVD is lent free of charge through the National Gallery of Art's Division of Education (go to NGA Loan Materials)

TFAO does not maintain a lending library of videos or sell videos. Click here for information on how to borrow or purchase copies of VHS videos and DVDs listed in TFAO's Videos -DVD/VHS, an authoritative guide to videos in VHS and DVD format.

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editor's notes rev 8/11/11

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