Renowned painter Gary Lichtenstein demonstrates true abstract expressionism via his spectacular use of color. His paintings, more than 200 oil-based works to date, exhibit mastery of the properties of light absorption and reflection, specifically with regard to the visual impact of color. Inspired by artists such as Robert Motherwell and Helen Frankenthaler, Lichtenstein creates canvases which have frequently been described as ethereal, and he has been praised as one who manages to capture a “sense of no-self…” In fact, the composition of Lichtenstein’s work has been referred to as atmospheric… “evocative of natural forms and phenomena.” In addition, Lichtenstein has collaborated with over one hundred artists during the course of his forty-five year career.
Legendary rock & roll poster artist Bob Fried was one of Lichtenstein’s earliest influences and also one of his greatest. A pioneer of silkscreen production, Fried was among the first to use the medium to produce original works of art; his psychedelic, 1960s poster art was embraced by rock bands such as Pink Floyd, The Grateful Dead, Santana, Genesis and Steppenwolf. By the time he met Lichtenstein, Fried had moved away from the rock art genre and was focused exclusively on the creation of original silkscreen prints and sculpture. Together, Fried and Lichtenstein dove into what was, at the time, relatively new territory: embracing the unique method of painting through silk – effectively taking an image apart and putting it back together again, screen by screen, color by color, layer by layer. During their 2 ½ year collaboration, the artists produced original artwork that would grace the highly anticipated Baha Exhibition at the San Francisco Museum of Art in 1975. Fried’s untimely death, however, two days before the opening of the exhibition, took the San Francisco art world by surprise. It also inspired the launch, three years later, of SOMA Fine Art, Lichtenstein’s first entrepreneurial venture.
Throughout his career, Lichtenstein has worked with a wide variety of artists, each of whom has approached the medium of silkscreen with unique and specific intentions. Every project produced in Lichtenstein’s studio, including his own, tells a different story. This comprehensive exhibition is a fascinating showcase of the infinite possibilities inspired by the medium of silkscreen printing. Featured artists include Cey Adams, Janette Beckman, Robert Cottingham, Crash, Daze, Al Diaz, Shepard Fairey, Futura, Elizabeth Gregory, Bob Gruen, Charles Hinman, Robert Indiana, Indie184, Alfred Leslie, Eric Orr, Robert Scott, Jessica Stockholder, Vincent Valdez and more.
Lichtenstein’s work has been shown and collected by, among others, The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Ridgefield, CT, New York’s Museum of Modern Art, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Smithsonian, the Chicago Art Institute, the Butler Institute of American Art and the College of Art & Architecture at the University of Tennessee. Th
e Fried screen print collection can be found at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, the Whitney Museum, and the Museum of Modern Art in San Francisco.
Dr. Louis Zona, Director says, “Gary Lichtenstein, contemporary artist and master printmaker has given much to the American art world. Working closely with enormously inventive avant-garde painters, sculptors and printmakers, he has advanced the visual arts in dramatic ways. His own creations represent continuous explorations and his genius for adding so much visual power to the creative work of colleagues fills a major gap. The Butler exhibition includes both his work and the work of client artists and colleagues. When Mr. Joseph Butler envisioned his museum of American art in 1919, he surely was wanting to show American contemporary art at its best. He would have welcomed Gary Lichtenstein to his roster of artists.”