Preview the Art Institute of Chicago’s Lichtenstein Retrospective

With Lichtenstein’s painting, Sleeping Girl (1964), setting a new auction record for the artist at Sotheby’s last night, when it sold for $44.9 million, an exhibition premiering this month at the Art Institute of Chicago, “Roy Lichtenstein: A Retrospective,” may garner even more attention. While you won’t see Sleeping Girl there, you will see some work at the earliest and latest points in the artist’s career.

With more than 160 works, including paintings, sculpture and drawing (128 from private collections and 35 from public collections), the show is being billed by the museum as “the most comprehensive exhibition ever devoted to Roy Lichtenstein.” As it is the first retrospective since Lichtenstein’s death in 1997, it contains some pieces he was at work on at the time of his death. Curated by Mr. Rondeau and Sheena Wagstaff (who just became head of the Met’s modern and contemporary art department), the show will later travel to the National Gallery in D.C., the Tate Modern in London (where Ms. Wagstaff previously served as chief curator) and the Centre Pompidou in Paris, but will not be making a stop in New York.

“The Guggenheim Museum, New York, hosted a major Lichtenstein retrospective (October 8, 1993 – January 16, 1994),” Mr. Rondeau told The Observer over email, “so we did not seek out a venue in NYC for this exhibition.”

Mr. Rondeau should know. As a summer intern, he labeled transparencies for the Guggenheim retrospective, and his affinity for the Pop artist runs deep. Two years ago, he and Ms. Wagstaff spent a couple of days in Bridgehampton, N.Y., combing through Lichtenstein’s work in storage, courtesy of the artist’s widow Dorothy (“we had complete access to see anything we wanted”). So, while you’ll see the tennis shoes, hot dogs and fighter planes, you’ll also see Chinese landscapes that he created in the last years of his life, as well as some abstract paintings done before his breakthrough into Pop. Click above for a small selection of works from this wide-ranging show.

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