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New exhibition of pop icon's works spanning four decades

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(30 Apr 2019) LEADIN  
More than 80 works by American pop artist Roy Lichtenstein are on display in a new exhibition in Milan.
‘Lichtenstein: Multiple Visions’ explores recurring themes in the artist’s work over a period of four decades from the 1950’s to the 1990’s.
STORYLINE:
Forty years of American pop artist Roy Lichtenstein.
Born in 1923, Lichtenstein came into his own in the 1960s along with other leading figures of the pop art movement, like Andy Warhol.
His art work was inspired by comic strips, and now the MUDEC museum in Milan is opening its doors with this new exhibition: Lichtenstein: Multiple Visions.  
On display is a vast range of the artist’s works grouped together into recurring themes including war, women and American culture.
More than 80 pieces have been brought together – prints, sculptures and tapestries  – on loan from leading museums, institutions and private European and American collections.
“The exhibit opens with a series of works inspired by the visual elements of Native American decorations. In this section we can see two parts from two different times, the pre-pop period, in the fifties where we see a truly unrecognizable Lichtenstein in which he mixes these vernacular elements, stories of cowboys, Indians, or heroes of the United States like George Washington with a style that recalls and parodies European modern art like Paul Klee and Picasso,” explains Gianni Mercurio, Curator of the exhibition.
“He comes back to the theme of Native Americans in the eighties, a time in which there is renewed attention in the United States towards minorities, these are the years of Black Power but also Red Power, a movement to protects and preserve the survival of Native American traditions,” adds Mercurio.
The artist’s ‘Still Life’ series – famed reflections of consumerism and American lifestyle – portray hot dogs, sandwiches and soda – a bold expression of the American Dream and his interpretation of American middle class values of the time.  
“He was an extremely methodical artist,” says Mercurio. “Like he would say himself, he led a life that was almost boring, and this was mirrored in his art – he would work by series and he would never begin a new series before finishing the previous one.”
‘Interiors’ shows examples where Lichtenstein combines different techniques including lithography, woodcutting and silk-screen printing. He also used bronze to create the statue named ‘Interior’.
But one of the main themes approached in this collection is the evolution of women in Lichtenstein’s works.
“The representation of the woman was a constant in the art of Roy Lichtenstein in different ways. In the beginning with the first pop pieces, we see that these figures taken from advertisements represented happy housewives if you’d like to paraphrase a well known television series, not desperate but happy, devoted to the care of their bodies, the cleanliness of the house and happy about this status. With the discovery of comics, these teen publications, sentimental women appear in his work, women that are sometimes dependent on men and that live with a certain existential fear,” explains Mercurio.
Twenty years later Lichtenstein had adapted his art to mirror revolutionary changes in female attitudes.
Although Lichtenstein followed, parodied and adapted to topical events and changes in society, his primary concern remained experimenting with printmaking using different materials such as plastics and rowlux.

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Date: January 3, 2020

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