The Morgan Library & Museum announced today that it has received a major gift from the Estate of Roy Lichtenstein (1923–1997), including twenty-one sketchbooks by the renowned artist, two of his early drawings, and several original drawings by artists who were part of his circle. The works were given to the Morgan by Lichtenstein’s wife, Dorothy, in memory of her husband. The sketchbooks include numerous studies and are important source material on Lichtenstein’s working method and the subject matter that attracted him during the various phases of his career. The drawings, which include sheets by Andy Warhol, Cy Twombly, Brice Marden, and Robert Rauschenberg, add significantly to the Morgan’s growing collection of modern works on paper, while highlighting Lichtenstein’s close involvement with some of the great practitioners of his day. In addition to the gift of the twenty-one sketchbooks, the Morgan will also receive on long-term loan eleven of the artist’s remaining sketchbooks, which are now held by the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation.
The thirty-two sketchbooks that will come to the Morgan cover the period from the mid-1960s to the artist’s death in 1997, and include drawings related to most of his familiar themes. They reveal a working method whereby Lichtenstein made groups of sketches of a particular subject, and then selected one to be cut out and projected onto the canvas to be painted. The studies that have remained in the sketchbooks present alternate versions and details that further illuminate the artist’s intentions.
The two drawings by Lichtenstein, large in scale, belong to the early years of his career, dating to 1958, and explore his fascination with popular American culture. Titled Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse I, they show Lichtenstein experimenting in an Abstract Expressionist style—influenced by Willem de Kooning’s paintings of women—but with subject matter that prefigures his Pop Art phase.
The drawings by other artists from Lichtenstein’s personal collection include an extremely important 1962 Andy Warhol work titled Campbell’s Soup Can and Dollar Bills. Combining two of the artist’s most iconic images, the work dates to a period when Warhol was using a loose style of drawing before initiating his famous serialized silk-screening process of the mid-1960s.
An untitled drawing by Cy Twombly dating to 1964 was made at Val Gardena in the Italian Alps. It shows the artist’s trademark richness of style, combining graffiti and symbols with scribbles and scratches expressive of his gestural approach.
A 1966 drawing by Brice Marden was purchased by Lichtenstein at Marden’s first solo gallery show the same year. Untitled and executed on the back of a cancelled print proof by Ellsworth Kelly, the drawing is a major work rendered in the textured, monochromatic palette that characterizes his work from the period.
Roy Lichtenstein. Mickey Mouse I, 1958. Pastel, brush and india ink on paper. 19 1/8 x 25 in. (48.6 x 63.5 cm). © Estate of Roy
The programs of the Morgan Library & Museum are made possible with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with
the City Council, and by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.