Roy Lichtenstein made his name by applying his Pop Art interpretation to cultural icons like Mickey Mouse and images from American advertising. Yet, he was also fascinated by landscapes and the popular art form of Impressionism. Starting in the 1960s, he paid homage to — and radically reimagined — Monet’s Impressionist works.
On view exclusively at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens’ Downtown Sarasota campus from February 13-June 27, 2021, Roy Lichtenstein: Monet’s Garden Goes Pop! will showcase the legendary Pop artist’s take on several staples of the public imagination: Claude Monet’s paintings of his garden and surroundings at Giverny. The display of these large-scale, rarely seen artworks will be accompanied by a complete transformation of the Downtown Sarasota campus’s 15 acres into Monet’s garden at Giverny as imagined through the aesthetic of Lichtenstein.
“It will be like stepping into Lichtenstein’s world – if he had created a world based on Monet,” says Jennifer Rominiecki, president and CEO of Selby Gardens. “Our horticultural team is taking the principles that Lichtenstein applied to his artwork and applying those to our interpretation of Monet’s garden at Giverny. This innovative, immersive interpretation has never been done before.”
An avid gardener, Monet once said, “My garden is my most beautiful masterpiece.” Indeed, it is still renowned in both the art and horticultural worlds. But looking at it through Lichtenstein’s eyes creates an evocation that’s a bit off-the-wall, a little tongue-in-cheek, and a whole lot of fun.
“We’re basically saying that if Lichtenstein had created Monet’s garden, this might be what he would have dreamed up,” says Rominiecki. “By giving our gardens the Monet treatment with an innovative and playful Pop Art twist, our guests will be able to explore Lichtenstein’s interpretation of Monet in a variety of ways.”
Familiar components of Monet’s garden at Giverny will appear at Selby Gardens – but with a new spin. The iconic Japanese Bridge will span Selby Gardens’ koi pond but look as if Lichtenstein painted it. A mix of 2D and 3D elements will playfully reimagine Monet’s home or his much-painted water lilies. These surprising intersections between Impressionism and Pop Art will engage visitors as they move through the gardens en route to the Museum of Botany & the Arts.
There viewers will be able to admire Lichtenstein’s Water Lilies with Reflections series, a limited edition of large-screen prints created in the latter years of his career that reinterprets the extreme painterly sensibilities of Monet’s famous Water Lilies. Printed on metal, Lichtenstein’s Water Lilies series uses flat areas of color, Ben-Day dots, and the reflective qualities of the material to imply motion and the movement of light. Earlier works from Lichtenstein’s Haystack series and archival photographs of Lichtenstein at work and at home will also be on view.
These imaginative works highlight both Lichtenstein’s Pop Art sensibilities and his shift later in his career into subtler explorations of color, light, and materials. “Using the medium of screen printing, in which Lichtenstein displayed his greatest originality, these works steep us in the rich theme and variation of serial imagery,” says Dr. Carol Ockman, curator-at-large for Selby Gardens and Robert Sterling Clark Professor of Art History Emerita at Williams College. “By converting the premier Impressionist’s work into a vernacular form like comics through his use of industrial materials with glossy surfaces, Lichtenstein playfully eviscerates Monet’s personal style.”
The exhibition is the latest installment in Selby Gardens’ immersive Jean & Alfred Goldstein Exhibition Series, which explores the connection of nature and flowers to major artists. Viewing world-renowned works of art in a garden setting awakens new comparisons in viewers’ minds. The most recent exhibition in the series was Salvador Dalí: Gardens of the Mind.
Published by Bloomsbury USA (2016)