Van Eyck – An Optical Revolution

Ghent Museum of Fine Arts Exhibition: February 1 – April 30, 2020
https://www.mskgent.be/en/exhibitions/van-eyck

Who can really resist an Exhibition, titled Van Eyck – An Optical Revolution? Particularly when over half of Jan van Eyck’s artistic oeuvre will be on display? Paintings from all over the world will travel to the Museum of Fine Arts (MSK) in Ghent “to contextualize the optical revolution he inspired.” Painting by Van Eyck, his workshop and from “his most talented peers from Germany, France, Italy and Spain” are placed side by side. This is an opportunity to study, compare and draw conclusions!

“Hubrecht van Eyck, the most famous painter ever known, started this work of art; his brother Jan, who was second in the art, finished the task at the request of Joos Vijd. With this verse the donor consigns the work to your charge on May 6th 1432. Admire what they have done for you”.

The main focus of the Ghent Exhibition is to present the recently restored outer panels of The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb or as it is widely known as the Ghent Altarpiece. According to the experts of Saint Bavo’s Cathedral “This painting by Hubrecht and Jan van Eyck is the principal work of the Flemish school in the 15th century. The main theme is the glorification or the heavenly apotheosis of man’s salvation and sanctification by the sacrifice of Christ. This subject is treated in a more visionary than narrative or dramatic manner. It is painted on oak panels; the paint consists of mineral pigments in a cement of drying oil.” https://sintbaafskathedraal.be/en/art/the-mystic-lamb.html

The outer panels of the Ghent Altarpiece, beautifully restored and exhibited at MSK, are divided into three registers. The upper register “lunettes” show prophets and Sibyls looking down on the middle register, the Annunciation scene. The four lower-register panels are divided into two pairs, the central sculptural paintings are in grisaille, presenting St John the Baptist and St John the Evangelist, while the two outer panels, in astonishing naturalism, stage the donor portraits of Joost Vijdt and his wife Lysbette Borluut.

Jan van Eyck was a revolutionary, ground-breaking artist and the Ghent Exhibition is a learning experience!

He perfected the Oil Technique by adding siccatives. With oil paints, he created rich, deep, lustrous colours, flawless golden tones, and amazing life-like textures.

Observation of reality is key to Jan’s Art. His portraits are lifelike in the minutest detail. His depiction of nature and natural phenomena are credible and authentic. He is so good at creating reality, his art seems like it is competing with reality itself!

Observing and Painting Optical Light Phenomena shows an artist deeply interested “in the painting of light, so crucial to his optical revolution.” Scholars believe that Jan van Eyck “not only gathers practical but also theoretical knowledge in order to reproduce the effects of light.” https://vaneyck2020.be/en/the-optical-revolution/

Artworks presented in the PowerPoint were put together, thanks to an MSK Catalogue… HERE! and HERE!

Pompeiian Portraits of Distinction

Woman with wax tablets and stylus, 55-79 AD, IV Pompeian style, fresco, 37 x 38 cm, discovered in Pompeii VI – Insula Occidentalis, Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli
Portrait of a man holding a papyrus roll, 55-79 AD, IV Pompeian style, fresco, discovered in Pompeii VI – Insula Occidentalis, Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli

The Pompeiian Portraits of Distinction shows a young couple, stylish, bold and educated at the prime of their life. They are both adorable in the way she brings her stylus to her lips, he holds his papyrus under his chin. They are both pensive… contemplative. They make you wonder… are they thinking of something they have just read or are they pondering on what they are about to write?

According to the experts at the Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli, the two portraits are amazing examples of the IV Pompeian style, discovered in Pompeii on May 24th, 1760. They were among the first discoveries made and dazzled the world! The small painting of “Sappho” holding a stylus and wax tablets, is the companion of the male portrait, depicting a young man holding a Papyrus Roll just under his chin, quite romantic looking, with blondish hair and wearing a lush laurel wreath.

What an elegant couple! Both rendered in pastel colours, they pose for eternity dressed in their… everyday finest. She has a dainty face with big brown eyes, rosy cheeks, full lips and a crest of curly auburn hair. She is richly adorned, but just so… a golden hairnet and a pair of thick golden ear loops are all she needs to look elegant. Her color scheme is on the cooler side, aubergine purple, forest green, and chestnut brown. The young man facing her is rendered in colours of mustard ochre and celery green. He has a pointed, elongated face and slightly slanted eyes. His adornment is a lush green wreath resting on blondish hair with thick curls. She boldly looks at us, he looks at her… both lost in thought! https://www.museoarcheologiconapoli.it/en/room-and-sections-of-the-exhibition/frescoes/ and https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:A_fresco_portrait_of_a_man_holding_a_papyrus_roll,_Pompeii,_Italy,_1st_century_AD.jpg

For a PowerPoint, please… click HERE!

San Michele in Africisco has an amazing story to tell!

The San Michele Apse Mosaic is the main attraction of the Bode Museum in Berlin.

The 6th century Church of San Michele in Africisco has an amazing story to tell! It all started in Ravenna… when Giuliano Argentarius, a Byzantine court official and banker of great wealth and devotion, commissioned, as a votive offering to Archangel Michael, a new church in the Ravennate neighborhood known as Frigiselus.

Guliano’s Church in Figiselus, known as San Michele in Africisco, was magnificently adorned with mosaics and marble adornments. Unfortunately, the church as a place of worship no longer exists due to alterations and lootings. Very little of the original wall structures stand, while mosaics and sculptural pieces are scattered among the Bode Museum in Berlin, the National Museum of Ravenna, the Museum of Torcello, the Victoria & Albert Museum, and St. Petersburg. Today, in place of the church there is a Max Mara shop!

The Napoleonic Wars and conquest of Ravenna in 1805 are the beginning of the Church’s end. “San Michele was purchased by Andrea Cicognani and became a fish shop. In 1840 it was sold to antique dealer Giuseppe Buffa, who made a wood store out of it and built a wall to protect its apse mosaic. During those years an envoy of King Frederick William IV of Prussia was sent to visit the church, and he ordered the purchase of the apse mosaic. He obtained Pope Gregory III’s permission to take it to Berlin, but first, it was necessary to remove the mosaic from its wall support. Alessandro Cappi, secretary of the Accademia delle Belle Arti of Ravenna, refused to detach the mosaic… but Vincenzo Pajaro, a Venetian antique dealer, removed the mosaic…and eventually sent it to Berlin.” http://www.mosaicoravenna.it/convegno/la-diaspora-dellarcangelo-san-michele-in-africisco-e-leta-giustinianea/?lang=en

Today, the San Michele Apse Mosaic is the main attraction of the Bode Museum in Berlin. The mosaic’s main composition depicts a rare youthful and beardless Christ, standing between the winged Archangels, Michael and Gabriel, holding a monumental, bejeweled Cross and an open Bible. The apsidal mosaic is placed under a frieze of vines and doves, supposed to represent the Twelve Apostles.  Missing today, the Apse mosaic is flanked by standing depictions of Cosmas and Damian, the early Christian medicinal saints. Right above the apse, on a frieze-like wall, the 6th-century mosaicist depicted an older looking, bearded Christ, seated on a throne, flanked, once more by the Archangels and seven angels sounding trumpets.

Apse mosaic from San Michele in Africisco in Ravenna, partly labeled in Italian, signed Puhl & Wagner, 2nd half of the 19th century, watercolor, 48×61 cm, Berlin, sculpture collection and Museum of Byzantine Art SMB

Very little is known about Giuliano Argentarius, the founder of San Michele in Africisco. However, I did find some information about his extraordinary deeds in an article titled “Banking in Early Byzantine Ravenna” by Salvatore Cosentino. For more… please check: https://journals.openedition.org/crm/13746

Valuable information about the Church and its Mosaics can be accessed in “Reassembled Art and History: The San Michele in Africisco (Ravenna)Mosaics” by Carla Linville White, 2014, Louisiana State University and Agricultural and Mechanical College Master’s Theses: https://docplayer.net/54185237-Reassembled-art-and-history-the-san-michele-in-africisco-ravenna-mosaics.html

For a 3D Reconstruction of San Michele in Africisco by Lorenzo Mariani, please see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FON1E-z5sIU

For a PowerPoint on the Church of San Michele Africisco, please… check HERE!

The Month of February

The Month of February, late 14th century-latest 1407, possibly by Maestro Venceslao, Fresco, Torre Aquila, Castello del Buonconsiglio in Trento, Italy

The Month of February fresco comes from Torre Aquila in the Castello del Buonconsiglio, in Trento, Italy. It is part of an amazing fresco Cycle of the Twelve Months painted on the walls of the tower’s 2nd-floor main room and presents the quintessential game of chivalry…

Is there among you any gentleman who for the love of his lady is willing to try with me some feat of arms? If there should be any such, here I am, quite ready to sally forth completely armed and mounted, to tilt three courses with the lance, to give three blows with the battle axe, and three strokes with the dagger. Now look, you English, if there be none among you in love. … and so Gauvain Micaille, the gallant Frenchman squire from Beauce, a gentleman of tried courage, who had advanced himself on his own merit, without any assistance from others, jousts for the honour of France showing his courage and bravery… https://uts.nipissingu.ca/muhlberger/FROISSART/GAUVAIN.HTM

The February fresco at Torre Aquila presents an impressive and festive Tournament where Jousting is the protagonist of the day. The Trento artist, maybe Maestro Venceslao, using warm tones of orange and ochre, organizes a two parts composition. The background presents Trento Ladies sitting behind an elaborate, purpose-built, parapet. They are finely dressed and adorned with elaborate headdresses, crowns, and wreaths, talking to each other, full of excitement… maybe contemplating, even debating whom they are going to favor! The Knights, fully armored and carrying their cotes-of-arm are depicted in the art of Jousting, their goal, to show gallantry and honour, their hope to attract the attention of “their” Lady and get a token of her favor… a veil, a ribbon, a wreath!

According to Wikipedia: “Jousting is a martial game or hastilude between two horsemen wielding lances with blunted tips, often as part of a tournament. The primary aim was to replicate a clash of heavy cavalry, with each participant trying hard to strike the opponent while riding towards him at high speed, breaking the lance on the opponent’s shield or jousting armor if possible, or unhorsing him. The joust became an iconic characteristic of the knight in Romantic medievalism. The participants experience close to three and a quarter times their body weight in G-forces when the lances collide with their armor.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jousting#CITEREFColtman1919

The Trento fresco for February has another interesting genre scene. In the narrow space between the room’s window and the staircase, the artist included a vignette of an older blacksmith toiling hard in his workshop. Let’s not forget this is a fresco cycle of the Labors of the Months, illustrating the activities of aristocrats and peasants, every month, throughout the year!

For a PowerPoint, please… check HERE!

Portrait Bust of a Woman with Scroll

Portrait Bust of a Woman with Scroll, late 4th-early 5th century, Pentelic marble, 53 x 27.5 x 22.2 cm, the MET, NY
https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/468716

Portrait Bust of a Woman with Scroll is a Constantinopolitan in origin portrait of an aristocratic Lady, I find fascinating!

The MET’s portrait presents a woman of high rank, aristocratic, educated, sensitive and demure. She survived, self-possessed, centuries of Constantinopolitan destruction, fire and plunder, alone, to finally arrive at the MET without her companion… She originally stood next to her husband, both holding a scroll, wishing they were remembered as a sophisticated couple of learning and culture…

My imagination, as you can see, runs wild… I see them standing in front of their double portrait admiring the soft carving and the delicate contours of it. They look appreciative of the highly polished, alabaster like, finishing of the carving and approve the young master sculptor’s ability of fine quality workmanship. They are eager to commission a new set of statuettes presenting  Mythological Hercules, symbolic Hero of their new Christian faith. They are great patrons of the arts. Their estate in Constantinople is famous for its beauty and treasures. Their library is legendary. As they stand admiring their new acquisition, they are expecting two new manuscripts, a scroll of Joshua’s adventures, and another scroll on the Book of Psalms…

According to the Metropolitan Museum of Art “This sensitively carved portrait bust presents a mature woman with a thoughtful expression and piercing gaze; the scroll held in her right hand signals an appreciation for classical learning and marks her as a member of the elite. She wears a mantle, tunic, and head covering, typical dress for an aristocratic woman. Such head coverings did not come into fashion until the fourth century. The bust likely formed part of a commemorative display, perhaps documenting a public donation, or was used in a domestic setting.” https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/468716

For me, art history teacher, this Portrait, a superb example of the Late Antique – Early Christian work in sculpture, is an opportunity to discuss artistic developments of the period. This is the reason why I prepared the attached PowerPoint on Female Portraits of the Late Antique-Early Christian PeriodHERE!

An Unlike Comparison

Shrine Head, by unknown Ife (Nigeria) artist, 12th-14th century, Terracotta, 31.1 x 14.6 x 18.4 cm, Minneapolis Institute of Art, MN
Roger van der Weyden, Portrait of a Lady, c. 1460, oil on oak panel, 34 × 25.5 cm, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

They are both beautiful and aristocratic, they look demure but haughty, they represent two different cultures… two different continents, yet they share an “attitude” I find intriguing! Can they be compared? An Unlike Comparison is a RWAP (Research-Writing-Art-Project) my students like a lot!!!

The Yoruba people have a long tradition in creating unique terracotta portrait sculptures characterized by naturalism and a sense of individuality and humanism. The Minneapolis Institute of Art Shrine Head is striking… blending aesthetic charisma with strong technical skills. The Ife Lady in Minneapolis has a lovely oval face with almond-shaped eyes under heavy lids, full cheeks, and fleshy lips. She has a condescending attitude in the way she carries her posture, she looks decorously downwards, yet, you can easily “imagine the glint in her eye and the gleam of her lips.” The unknown artist of this amazing portrait follows the Yoruba fashion of the time and the face is rendered with “vertical lines following the natural contours of the woman’s face…” This is a tradition “associated with scarification, the practice of cutting designs into the skin as marks of beauty and lineage.” There is, however, a new theory among scholars suggesting that “the lines may be shadows cast by the veiled royal crown worn in her day.” https://collections.artsmia.org/art/4866/shrine-head-yoruba

Rogier van der Weyden is an unquestionably charismatic portraitist. He has the ability to “grasp” the essence of the sitter and “deliver” it, pure and genuine. He is also able to create balanced compositions, combining the elements of art and expressing “an aristocratic ideal of control.” The NGA Portrait of a Lady, a member of the flamboyant court of Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy, is one such example. May I say, my favorite? Her name may be lost to us, but her high position in Burgundian court is, however, undisputed. She poses as the grand lady she is, in three-quarters view, resting her clasped hands under her chest, exquisitely groomed and dressed, eyes cast down, tranquil… lost in her thoughts. Is she? Rogier van der Weyden rendered her with great “affection.” Every aspect of the composition is well thought… the fall of the veil, the V of the neckline, the triangles formed by dark color schemes, the sharp juxtaposition of black and white in the sitter’s dress, and finally, la pièce de résistance, the bright red ornate belt, in the lowest part of the painting, behind her clasping hands, heightening up her rosy, fleshy lips. How masterful can Rogier be! https://www.nga.gov/collection/highlights/van-der-weyden-portrait-of-a-lady.html

Grade 10 student work

This is An Unlike Comparison, we love to talk about in my Secondary School Art History class and a RWAP (Research-Writing-Art-Project) my students really like to explore.

For the Student RWAP, please… click HERE!

For a PowerPoint, please… click HERE!

Heraklitos and the Asarotos Oikos Mosaic

Heraklitos, Asarotos Oikos (Unswept Floor), 2nd century AD, Mosaic, 4.05 x 4.05 meters, Musei Vaticani, Museo Gregoriano Profano, Rome

Heraklitos and the Asarotos Oikos Mosaic is one of the many reasons why you should visit the Gregoriano Profano Museum in the Vatican!  It’s an exhibit I dearly love, a mosaic that amuses me, tests my observation… a work of art of the highest quality!

The story of the Asarotos Oikos theme in mosaic-work takes us back to the Hellenistic Period, to the great city of Pergamon on the coast of Asia Minor, and to a legendary mosaicist, called Sosus (εκ Περγάμου ψηφιδογράφος Σώσος). Pliny the Elder describes Hellenistic mosaic making and Sosus’s accomplishments as “…Paved floors originated among the Greeks and were skilfully embellished with a kind of paintwork until this was superseded by mosaics. In this latter field the most famous exponent was Sosus, who at Pergamum laid the floor of what is known in Greek as ‘the Unswept Room’ because, by means of small cubes tinted in various shades, he represented on the floor refuse from the dinner table and other sweepings, malting them appear as if they had been left there…” Pliny, Natural History, 36.60.25 https://www.loebclassics.com/view/pliny_elder-natural_history/1938/pb_LCL419.145.xml?readMode=reader

The Gregoriano Profano Museum in the Vatican has one of the finest Asarotos Oikos mosaics, carefully executed and brightly colored. It was discovered in 1833, on the Aventine Hill in Rome, and as the archaeologists established, it decorated the dining room floor of a Hadrian period villa. This is a unique mosaic, the masterpiece of Heraklitos, the mosaicist, proud to sign his name.  

Heraklitos created a complex floor mosaic composition. The threshold of the triclinium (the Roman dining-room) greeted guests with a design of theatrical masks, ritual objects, and the mosaicist’s signature! The central mosaic decoration presented a complex Nilotic scene, now mostly destroyed. The Assarotos Oikos themed mosaic, boarder-like, covered the four sides of the room depicting, on a white background, “…the debris of a banquet, the remains that would normally be swept away.” It is amusing for me to try to identify what Heraklitos depicted on this amazing floor… fruit, leafy vegetables, lobster and crab claws, clams and oysters, sea urchins, chicken bones, and nutshells, even a tiny mouse, gnawing on a walnut shell. I am equally amazed at the artist’s skill to demonstrate an understanding of three-dimentionality by using contrasting colors and casting shadows against the white floor background. http://www.museivaticani.va/content/museivaticani/en/collezioni/musei/museo-gregoriano-profano/Mosaico-dell-asarotos-oikos.html

An interesting article titled “The asàrotos òikos mosaic as an elite status symbol” by Ehud Fathy of the Tel Aviv University provides an interesting explanation of how we should read this mosaic theme. “The asàrotos òikos mosaics have all been discovered exclusively in the domestic spaces of the Roman elite. The manufacturing of such detailed mosaics must have demanded great financial investment, and while the mosaics must have amused the guests with their Trompe-l’œil qualities, it is hard to believe that such an expenditure was made with this sole purpose in mind. The aim of this article is to explore the asàrotos òikos mosaics as a Roman status symbol of elitist erudition… ” file:///C:/Users/aspil/Downloads/Dialnet-TheAsarotosOikosMosaicAsAnEliteStatusSymbol-6037238%20(1).pdf

For a PowerPoint on the Vatican Asarotos Oikos Mosaic, please… click HERE!

Nea Herakleia Reliquary

The Nea Herakleia Reliquary is exhibited in the Museum of Byzantine Culture, a favorite museum of mine, in Thessaloniki, Greece. http://odysseus.culture.gr/h/4/eh431.jsp?obj_id=4751&mm_id=983

The Reliquary in focus is a small rectangular silver box of hammered silver with a hinged lid. The lid has been badly damaged in several places, but its four decorated sides are in relatively good condition. The Traditio Legis, Christ’s passing of the law to Saints Peter and Paul adorns the front side of the reliquary. The other three sides, inspired by the Old Testament, present three very popular and symbolic scenes, the Three Hebrews, Daniel in the Lion’s Den and Moses receiving the Law. The lid is decorated with a Christogram flanked by the Greek letters α (alpha) and ω (omega) defining the omnipresence of God, the beginning and the end, as α is the first letter of the Greek alphabet and ω its last. The sides of the reliquary’s lid are decorated with a vine scroll with leaves, quite beautifully chiseled, and grapes. https://leipsanothiki.blogspot.com/2014/02/245.html

Kurt Weitzman in his “Age of Spirituality” the introductory essay says that “The transition from the dying classical to the rising and finally triumphant Christian culture was a complex process, extending over several centuries, in which the two coexisted and competed with each other.” He is so right! The Nea Herakleia Reliquary, a relatively unfamiliar example of silverwork, is an amazing example of this extraordinary era. An item of the Christian faith, decorated with New and Old Testament scenes, the Reliquary in focus, is an example of a movement in art, scholars often call the “Theodosian Renaissance.” The artist focused his interest in the depiction of the human body, facial expression, and movement. Very little else matters, with probably the exception of the two Lions flanking Daniel. There are restrictions or exaggerations in corporeality, but modeling is plastic in conception, postures are natural, facial expressions emotional and drapery softly modeled. This is indeed an exceptional work of art worth exploring further. http://odysseus.culture.gr/h/4/eh430.jsp?obj_id=4751

Visiting the Thessaloniki Museum for Byzantine Culture is a true cultural experience. In 1989, the Museum’s architect, Kyriakos Krokos, wrote: “I wanted a space within which movement would create a feeling of freedom, stirring up the senses, and where the exhibit would be a surprise within the movement. I believe that as visitors walk through the Museum Halls there are many pleasant surprises.  The floor and wall mosaics in the first Early Christian Period Room, attract everybody’s attention. The Byzantine tunics with their fine embroideries, the icons and the intricately illuminated manuscript in the Middle Byzantine Period Room are definitely noticed. Finally, as the visitor is about to leave, one last surprise, a beautiful Post-Byzantine golden eikonostasi, one last startling work of art to ponder about. https://mbp.gr/en/building

For the PowerPoint Teacher Curator prepared, please… Click HERE!

Teacher Curator also prepared a student RWAP (Research – Writing – Art -Project)… presented HERE!

Grade 6 student project on the Nea Herakleia Reliquary

Forgotten Masters: Indian Painting for the East India Company

https://www.wallacecollection.org/forgotten-masters-indian-painting-east-india-company/

A very unique Exhibition takes place in London these days. The Wallace Collection presents Forgotten Masters: Indian Painting for the East India Company honours historically overlooked Indian artists like Shaikh Zain ud-Din, Bhawani Das, Shaikh Mohammad Amir of Karriah, Sita Ram and Ghulam Ali Khan and brings to life a forgotten moment in Anglo-Indian history. Another unique Exhibition highlight is the guest curator of the Exhibition, William Dalrymple, Scottish renowned historian and writer, art historian and curator, as well as an award-winning broadcaster and critic.

Forgotten Masters: Indian Painting for the East India Company introduced me to the work of Shaikh Zain ud-Din, a Bengali Muslim artist whose work blends Mughal and Western painting techniques, creating “…incredibly precise and beautifully observant” works of art, as Xavier Bray, director of London’s Wallace Collection comments on the Smithsonian Magazine. https://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/awe-inspiring-wildlife-drawings-shaikh-zain-uddin-180973502/

Shaikh Zain ud-Din worked for Sir Elijah first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court at Fort William, Calcutta, and his wife, the natural historian Mary Impey. The Impeys moved to India in 1773 and soon fell under the spell of the subcontinent, establishing a menagerie of Indian and South-East Asian birds and animals in the extensive grounds of their estate. It was only natural for Mary to commission in 1777, a small group of artists, eminent among them Shaikh Zain ud-din, to paint her exotic flora and fauna. The result of this “brilliant” decision was a collection of paintings, 362 in number, known as the Impey Album. “These paintings,” Xavier Bray, director of London’s Wallace Collection says, “were made into albums to be leafed through back home, on a rainy day, drinking Earl Grey tea.” https://coromandelart.wordpress.com/

Shaikh Zain ud-Din’s paintings, although rendered in European materials, capture India’s natural history in a way that only a local could. They are an unprecedented hybrid of East and West. They “emulate, on a greatly enlarged scale, the refinement of 17th century Mughal natural history paintings,” and, believed to have been painted from life, they also exhibit the artist’s ability to assimilate European conventions. The 2012 Ashmolean Lady Impey’s Indian Bird Paintings Exhibition was the first major presentation of Shaikh Zain ud-Din’s oeuvre to the public, the current London Exhibition will further establish his work as a fine moment in the history of Indian Art. http://jameelcentre.ashmolean.org/collection/6980/10198

An unlikely ‘collaboration’ is a very interesting, worth reading Interview with the Exhibition’s curator, award-winning historian, writer and curator William Dalrymple, by Mark Rappolt, for the ArtReviewAsia. https://artreview.com/features/ara_winter_2019_feature_interview_william_dalrymple/

For a PowerPoint on the Wallace Collection Exhibition, please… check HERE!

A Roy Lichtenstein Trilogy

Roy Lichtenstein (Textile) Lee Rudd Simpson, Sunrise Dress, 1965, white satin one-piece dress, silk-screen print by Roy Lichtenstein, Kyoto Costume Institute
Roy Lichtenstein, Sunrise, 1965, Enamel on steel, One from an edition of five, 57.5 × 91.5 cm, Basil & Elise Goulandris Foundation, Athens
Roy Lichtenstein, Sinking Sun, 1964, oil and magna on canvas, 68 x 80 in. 172.7 x 203.2 cm, private collection

A Roy Lichtenstein Trilogy is about the artist’s 1965 fascination with landscapes depicting the Sun. In 1964, Lichtenstein started experimenting with Landscapes, exploring aspects of the Sea and the Sky, including his famous painting of the Sinking Sun. His explorations were in various media, including paintings, enamel on metal, like the example exhibited in the Basil &Elise Goulandris Foundation, drawings, collages and Lithographs.

In a 1967 Interview with John Coplans, Roy Lichtenstein reflected on his Sinking Sun painting: “There is something humorous about doing a sunset in a solidified way, especially the rays, because a sunset has little or no specific form. It is like the explosions. It’s true that they may have some kind of form at any particular moment, but they are never really perceived as defined shape… It makes something ephemeral completely concrete.” (Lichtenstein interviewed by John Coplans cited in Exh. Cat., Pasadena, Art Museum, Roy Lichtenstein, 1967)

Roy Lichtenstein, Sinking Sun, 1964, oil and magna on canvas, 68 x 80 in. 172.7 x 203.2 cm, private collection

Lichtenstein’s Sunrise at the Basil & Elise Goulandris Foundation in Athens is a fine example of his 60’ turn to Landscape representations. A leading figure in 20th century American Pop Art, Roy Lichtenstein used comic book representation and advertising imagery to further enhance his quest for visual perception. The Goulandris’s Sunrise of 1965, enamel on metal, rich texture, improves upon his hard-edged, Pop stylized landscape imagery and heightens the Pop Art Culture. His colour palette, reduced to the three primary colours of red, yellow and blue reminds us of what the artist has said: “I use colour in the same way as a line. I want it oversimplified – anything that could be vaguely red becomes red. It is mock insensitivity. Actual colour adjustment is achieved through manipulation of size, shape and juxtaposition”.  (Roy Lichtenstein interviewed by G. R. Swenson cited in Exh. Cat., London, Tate Gallery, Roy Lichtenstein, 1968)

Roy Lichtenstein, Sunrise, 1965, Enamel on steel, One from an edition of five, 57.5 × 91.5 cm, Basil & Elise Goulandris Foundation, Athens
https://goulandris.gr/en/artwork/lichtenstein-roy-sunrise

The Roy Lichtenstein Trilogy comes to an end with the Sunrise Dress! now in the Kyoto Costume Institute. It “…caused a stir when worn by Lichtenstein’s friend, Letty Lou Eisenhauer, to the opening of the artist’s 1965 exhibition at the Galerie Ileana Sonnabend in Paris.” The Sunrise dress was accompanied by a simple white coat, “a wearable work of art…the dress being the painting and the coat… a simple white cover-up, concealing the painting until its time to be revealed, for the utmost dramatic effect!” https://www.kci.or.jp/en/archives/digital_archives/1960s/KCI_242?fbclid=IwAR0mjI__BNzqkPN-WUOA-SVQ4OVndv7-gIQk5bJ6WNKx44RLE427hUguvnE

Roy Lichtenstein (Textile) Lee Rudd Simpson, Sunrise Dress, 1965, white satin one-piece dress, silk-screen print by Roy Lichtenstein, Kyoto Costume Institute

The Basil & Elise Goulandris Foundation in Athens provides an interesting Audio Guide for their visitors… https://goulandris.gr/en/artwork/lichtenstein-roy-sunrise

For a Roy Lichtenstein PowerPoint, please… check HERE!