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Just coming off his series of Mirror paintings, Lichtenstein began a study of entablatures, in classical architecture the intermediate bands that separate the columns from the pediment. The artist looked at examples in ancient buildings he found in architectural journals, and then he took the streets around his lower Manhattan studio, taking photographs at noontime, when the high light brought out the features of the ornament in sharpest detail. The buildings he photographed were, of course, far from ancient, but contemporary, buildings that appropriated the classical idiom to link the architecture of power in ancient times to the architecture of power in modern times - the banks and financial institutions of the Wall Street district. Copies of copies of copies, much in the same way that Lichtenstein drew on existing images for his own work.
|Entablature #8, 1972, 30 x 240 inches|
|Entablature 1975, 54 x 216 inches|
We'll I'm trying to think. Even the Entablatures are meant to be humorous in a way, because they don't seem to be funny but they mean imperial power or something like that. That's the work I can think of that's maybe the most humorless, but it's still meant to be humorous in some way.There were 30 paintings in two series. The first, from 1971-72, were black-and-white. The second, 1974-76, in color and using textures. As Bois notes, the series could be seen to be prophetic. In 1972, Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown's Learning from Las Vegas was published, and Post-Modernism in architecture, which Bois disdains, was off to the races. But the time Post-Modernism was in full flower a few years later, Lichtenstein had already moved on to somewhere else.
"This series," said Lichtenstein, "can also to seen to represent, in a humorous way, the establishment."
Now Lichtenstein is the establishment, entombed, for the moment, in Thomas Beeby's neo-classical Daniel F. and Ada L. Rice Building, from 1988, with its Doric-columned courtyard.
Lichtenstein Express, about a building-sized Lichtenstein mural created by School of the Art Institute students on the sides of a former warehouse facing the Kennedy expressway.
Tempus Fugit. We are now fast closing in on the September 3rd closing date for this remarkable show. For its final four days over the Labor Day weekend, the Art Institute is extending its hours through 8:00 p.m.
If you the only thing you thought about Lichtenstein was that he was the guy who did comic book stuff, you're in for a delightful shock. While early critics honed on his work as being all the same, what strikes you at the Art Institute is how Lichtenstein took a basic idiom, and stretched and re-invented it in multiple directions throughout his career. His final canvases included both a series of nudes . . .
|Interior with Nude Leaving, 1997|
|Landscape in Fog, 1996|
|The Red Horseman (Study), 1974|
After Chicago, the show barnstorms to the National Gallery in DC, the Tate in London, and the Pompidou in Paris. You have another 15 days to see if here. Why wait?