The Roy Lichtenstein Foundation will donate 186 works of art and other materials by the late Pop artist to five museums in anticipation of what would have been Roy Lichtenstein’s 100th birthday in October.
The institutions receiving donations are the Albertina in Vienna; the Colby College Museum of Art in Waterville, Maine; the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (Lacma) and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York's Meatpacking District—which received the artist's nearby studio building as a gift from his widow Dorothy Lichtenstein last year. The foundation will distribute prints, drawings, sculptures, paintings and archival films among the five institutions.
“We are delighted to get an early start on the centenary by making gifts of art to these five outstanding museums, each of which has a history of sharing Lichtenstein’s work with the public,” Jack Cowart, executive director of the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation, said in a statement.
The Whitney Museum is already home to a significant collection of Lichtenstein’s work and will receive another 66 items from the foundation, including preparatory works related to the artist's Times Square Mural (1994) print process materials and rare drawings for his Three Landscapes film (1969-70).
The foundation gifted 34 works on paper spanning from 1948 and 1997 to the Albertina, including early woodcuts and linoleum cuts, and lithographs and screenprints from later in his career. A selection of these works is already on view in Vienna in an exhibition at the Albertina Modern devoted to modern and contemporary printmaking. The rest of the donation will provide the basis for a centennial celebration currently being planned by the institution for 2024.
The Colby College Museum of Art and the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University—which last year co-organised a travelling exhibition of Lichtenstein’s work made between 1948 and 1960—received a joint gift of Composition (1955), one of the artist’s seminal mixed-media works made up of painted scrap wood, bolts and screws. Individually, the foundation gifted Colby two Lichtenstein works on paper, four paintings and one sculpture; the Nasher is receiving two works on paper, five paintings and one sculpture.
The foundation has earmarked 70 items related to Lichtenstein’s Three Landscapes film project for Lacma. The film was originally commissioned by museum and it served as a core element in the museum’s groundbreaking 1971 exhibition Art and Technology.
“Given his modesty, Roy might not have wanted to fuss over this anniversary, but I’m sure he would have been thrilled to know that in his hundredth year, his work looks as fresh, radical and relevant as ever, and is now being honoured as a permanent achievement,” Dorothy Lichtenstein, the president of the foundation's board, said in a statement.
Lichtenstein was born 23 October 1923 and died in 2017. The foundation will mark what would have been Lichtenstein’s 100th birthday through gifts, exhibitions and other programming. The foundation already advised the US Postal Service for a series of commemorative stamps based on Lichtenstein’s work.
On Thursday, the estate of Dada artist Hans Arp revealed it would donate 220 sculptures by the late artist to ten museums around the world. And earlier this spring, in another centennial act of generosity, the Ellsworth Kelly Foundation gave grants and artworks by Kelly—whose 100th birthday was Wednesday (31 May)—to 50 museums across the US.