By Doug MacCash, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune
The late pop art master Roy Lichtenstein’s sculpture “Five Brushstrokes” has been in place in front of The New Orleans Museum of Art for exactly a year. But at 6 p.m. Wednesday (Dec. 10), NOMA officially welcomes the 20-foot-tall painted aluminum landmark with a ceremony in front of the museum at 1 Collins Diboll Circle.
Art benefactors Sydney and Walda Besthoff, who bought the sculpture for the museum, will speak, as will NOMA Director Susan Taylor and Jack Cowart, executive director of the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation.
In a Dec. 9, 2013, story about the installation of the sculpture. Besthoff said that there was a long negotiation before the purchase.
“There were only a few (Lichtenstein) pieces of this size and scope available,” he said. “It will make the view of the museum, as you’re coming to it, much more dramatic. We really have scaled it well for this museum.”
Walda Besthoff said that brushstrokes are an ideal image for the entry of an art museum.
“It says art, art, art, here we are,” she said. “It’s just such a statement. It’s a wonderful thing to have in front of the museum. I can’t think of anything that would be better.”
Roy Lichtenstein sculpture arrives at NOMA Watch as art philanthropists Sydney and Walda Besthoff describe the Roy Lichtenstein sculpture that they bought for the New Orleans Museum of Art. The sculpture titled ‘Five Brushstrokes’ was installed Dec. 8, 2013. For more, search for the story ‘Roy Lichtenstein sculpture arrives at New Orleans Museum of Art’ at NOLA.com.
Roy Lichtenstein, who was born in 1923, made his mark on art history in the 1950s and '60s. At the time, highly emotional paintings by abstractionists such as Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning were the rage.
Lichtenstein’s approach couldn’t have been more different. He imitated the lowbrow illustrations in comic books with a meticulous, passionless painting style. The impersonal, melodramatic comic book cells that he reproduced seemed to mock the earnest emotionalism of the self-involved abstract painters that came before him.
To put an even finer point on his dryly humorous commentary, Lichtenstein created deadpan close-up paintings of drippy action-packed brush strokes. Just the sort of fevered brush strokes that Pollock and De Kooning had made famous. Lichtenstein re-imagined some of those satirical brush strokes in three dimensions. “Five Brushstrokes” is an example.
Lichtenstein died in 1997, but the NOMA sculpture wasn’t fabricated until 2010. The estates of sculptors of sufficient stature occasionally authorize editions of their work to be executed after the artist’s death.