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'Roy Lichtenstein: A Retrospective' Debuts At The Art Institute of Chicago (PHOTOS)

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The largest exhibition of Roy Lichtenstein's work to date will be traveling to a number of museums in the U.S. and Europe this summer. First stop: the Art Institute of Chicago.

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"Our aim with this exhibition is to explore the full range of absorbing contradictions at the heart of Lichtenstein's work -- starting with the paradox that Lichtenstein systematically dismantled the history of modern art while becoming a fixture in that canon," says co-curator James Rondeau to AFP. More than 160 works are on display, from his iconic Pop Art comic strip works to more unusual pieces that one doesn't automatically associate with the artist -- including landscapes, ink paintings, nudes, and even a triple-screen film shot by Lichtenstein. ("Three Landscapes," is the only film the artist ever made.) "What really comes out in this exhibition is Roy's sense of humor," says Jay Dandy, a researcher for the exhibition and former president of the Society for Contemporary Art, to the Chicago Reader.

Humor is a big part of contemporary art; so much has been done already, and sometimes we just have to laugh at the absurdity and commercialism that has crept into every aspect of our lives. Lichtenstein knows all this, which is why his work is so enduring. His work is fresh, even though "Look Mickey," which opens the exhibition, was painted in 1961. In a 1997 interview with David Sylvester, Lichtenstein muses on the humor in his work, saying, "Picasso himself would probably have thrown up looking at my pictures." Here's to a man who can laugh at himself, and all of us.

"Roy Lichtenstein: A Retrospective" will be on view at the Art Institute of Chicago (May 22–September 3, 2012); National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC (October 14–January 13, 2013); Tate Modern, London (February 21–May 27, 2013); and Centre Pompidou, Paris (July 3–November 4, 2013).

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  • Roy Lichtenstein, American (1923-1997). Masterpiece, 1962. Oil on canvas. 137.2 x 137.2 cm (54 x 54 in). © Estate of Roy Lichtenstein. Agnes Gund Collection, New York.

  • Roy Lichtenstein, American (1923-1997). Oh, Jeff...I Love You, Too...But..., 1964. Oil and Magna on canvas. 121.9 x 121.9 cm (48 x 48 in). © Estate of Roy Lichtenstein. Collection Simonyi.

  • Roy Lichtenstein, American (1923-1997). Sunrise, 1965. Oil and Magna on canvas. 91.4 x 172.7 cm (36 x 68 in). © Estate of Roy Lichtenstein. Private Collection.

  • Roy Lichtenstein, American (1923-1997). Nude with Street Scene, 1995. Oil on Magna on canvas. 121.9 x 171.5 cm (48 x 67 1/2 in). © Estate of Roy Lichtenstein. Collection Simonyi.

  • Roy Lichtenstein, American (1923-1997). Whaam!, 1963. Magna and oil on canvas. 172.7 x 406.4 cm (68 x 160 in). © Estate of Roy Lichtenstein. Tate: Purchased 1966. Photo ©Tate, 2011.

  • Roy Lichtenstein, American (1923-1997). Keds, 1961. Oil on canvas. 123.2 x 88.3 cm (48.5 x 34.75 in). © Estate of Roy Lichtenstein. The Robert B. Mayer Family Collection, Chicago, Illinois, USA.

  • Roy Lichtenstein, American (1923-1997). Artist's Studio No. 1 (Look Mickey), 1973. Oil, Magna, sand with aluminum powder and Magna medium on canvas. 243.8 x 325.1 cm (96 x 128 in). © Estate of Roy Lichtenstein. Collection Walker Art Center, Minneapolis. Gift of Judy and Kenneth Dayton and the T.B. Walker Foundation, 1981.

  • Roy Lichtenstein, American (1923-1997). Alka Seltzer, 1966. Graphite and lithographic rubbing crayon pochoir, with scraping, on cream wove paper, fixed. 76.2 x 55.9 cm (30 x 22 in). © Estate of Roy Lichtenstein. Art Institute of Chicago, Margaret Fisher Endowment.

  • Roy Lichtenstein, American (1923-1997). Landscape in Fog, 1996. Oil and Magna on canvas. 180.3 x 207.6 cm (71 x 81.75 in). © Estate of Roy Lichtenstein. Private Collection.

  • Roy Lichtenstein, American (1923-1997). Look Mickey, 1961. Oil on canvas. 121.9 x 175.3 cm (48 x 69 in). © National Gallery of Art. The National Gallery of Art. Dorothy and Roy Lichtenstein, Gift of the artist, in Honor of the 50th Anniversary of the National Gallery.

  • Roy Lichtenstein, American (1923-1997). The Ring (Engagement), 1962. Oil on canvas. 121.9 x 177.8 cm (48 x 70 in). © Estate of Roy Lichtenstein. Stefan T. Edlis Collection.

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