As a major new exhibition by ground-breaking American Pop Art artist Roy Lichtenstein opens in Edinburgh on Saturday, including a series of comic book nude women shown in domestic settings, his widow revealed
Lichtenstein was shy man who had hardly mixed with the female sex until he went to university.
Dorothy Lichtenstein, talking at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, said her husband, famous for his comic book women artworks, had attended an all boys school and was in awe of women.
“I think Roy really adored women but he was a bit shy and it wasn’t until he went to university and went to co-ed classes that he mixed much.
“He actually thought women were deeper than men and his work was rather ironic and speaking out against the two-dimensional role society puts women in.”
Lichtenstein, who took up painting nudes in the 1990s once joked: “It was a good excuse to contrast undulating and volumetric form with rigid geometry.”
The free exhibition, housed in a three-room display, has at its centre 16 large-scale prints made in the 1990s. These are being shown alongside iconic work dating from the 1960s including the early comic book painting In The Car from the SNGMA’s collection, stainless steel interpretations of Monet’s Water Lily’s at Giverny in France, and Wall Explosion on loan from Tate in London.
The Roy Lichtenstein Foundation has given the 16 prints on long-term loan to the Artist Rooms 2015 touring programme which takes art to venues across Britain.
Mrs Lichtenstein, making her first visit to Scotland, also said it was “love at first sight” when she met her husband while working in an art gallery in New York.
“I was working in an art gallery round the corner from his and we had asked him and Andy (Warhol) if they would put an image on a shopping bag for us. It was 1964 and I think Roy was just happy to be asked and we just knew straight away.”
She added that even when he had achieved worldwide fame he would rather queue up with the public than get preferential treatment, and this included the couple’s visit to Giverny.
“He didn’t like to draw attention to himself and I think it was his sense of democracy which made him want to queue up with everyone else.”
Lichtenstein died in 1997, aged 73. His widow said that promoting his work through the foundation was “bitter sweet.”
“We were kind of soulmates. There was some sort of process going on so that we sort of knew what the other was thinking.
“I have the feeling that he’s a presence there that comes in and out. I used to tease him a lot and I think he’s be laughing at me having to be his stand-in.”
Dr Jack Cowart, executive director of the Lichtenstein Foundation, said: “I’m glad there’s excitement about this exhibition and the delight is reciprocated by the foundation when we see the great job the gallery has done.”
• Exhibition - ARTIST ROOMS: Roy Lichtenstein, free, Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, runs 14 March 2015-10 January 2016
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