June 30, 2006

Lichtenstein inspired by Indians

A pop artist's fascination with the first AmericansCan there possibly be anything about the work of Roy Lichtenstein (1923-1997) that isn't already well known? Well, yes: his interest in the people of the Old West, particularly American Indians, which led him to incorporate their motifs in his work.

Lichtenstein's engagement with American Indian art is reflected in two periods of his career: his earliest work, and his Surrealist series of the late 1970s. The works on view range from a Cubist-oriented early canvas, "The Death of Jane McCrea" (1951), based on the 19th-century painting by John Vanderlyn about a young bride scalped by Indians, to "Amerind Figure" (1981), a wittily stylized life-size sculpture that's a kind of streamlined totem pole in black-patinated bronze. They include a stunning wool tapestry, "Amerind Landscape" (1979), a sophisticated composition with the design pizazz of Lichtenstein's style in full bloom.
See Roy Lichtenstein:  American Indian Encounters for more on the subject, including pictures.

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