Though pop artist Roy Lichtenstein liked to play down his Jewish roots, a new exhibit at LA’s Skirball Center spotlights the influence of Jewish artists and gallerists.
He gave chic new definition, boosted the New York art scene, and went to such brazen lengths as to deliver artwork unrequested to the Museum of Modern Art and simply send a bill. He was known to have commandeered a gondola with his pals to transport art in time to compete in the Venice Biennale. He even vowed he would break down a gallery door rather than cut an artwork in half. Few dealers were ever so devoted to their artists as Leo Castelli.
King David is a smiling child in a red T-shirt and corduroys. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad fills in for Haman. David Ben-Gurion is leading Holocaust survivors across the Red Sea.
Earlier this month, the Rose Art Museum at Brandeis University formally opened its 2010-2011 season with two new exhibits: “Regarding Painting” and “WaterWays.” The museum has been the subject of much negative media controversy over the past few years. Between rumors of its closing and lawsuits over artwork being sold, one of the university’s gems had been buried in bad press. Now, all of that is about to change.
“Roy Lichtenstein: The Black-and-White Drawings, 1961-1968” opens and closes, quite fittingly, with doors. “Knock Knock,” a 1961 drawing, greets visitors entering the single-room exhibition. The title words splay from an all-white door, its shape defined by heavy, even black lines. Short marks indicate the thwap of invisible knuckles. Later, after circling the perimeter, you step into a nook. Inside stands a real, three-dimensional door, the only remnant of Lichtenstein’s full-room installation at the 1967 Aspen Festival of Contemporary Art. Like the drawing, the door is white outlined in black, and a hand has struck, this time leaving a more phonetic NOK!! NOK!!