HIGHLIGHT 2021: Roy Lichtenstein vs. Claude Monet at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens

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 Feb. 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, France. 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.”

Roy Lichtenstein. Water Lilies with Clouds, 1992. Screen print on enamel on stainless steel, 65.41 x 44.76 in. Norton Museum of Art © Estate of Roy Lichtenstein

An avid gardener, Monet once said, “My garden is my most beautiful masterpiece.” It is still renowned in both the art and horticultural worlds. However, looking at it through Lichtenstein’s eyes creates an evocation that is fun, a bit off-the-wall and slightly tongue-in-cheek.

“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.

Admission to Roy Lichtenstein: Monet’s Garden Goes Pop! is included with all-access admission to Selby Gardens’ Downtown Sarasota campus: $25 adults, $15 children 4-17 and free for members. Artworks featured in the exhibition are on loan from the Norton Museum of Art (West Palm Beach), the Pérez Art Museum (Miami) and the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation (New York).

Selby Gardens will present Lichtenstein- and Monet-themed lectures, performances, family programs, special tours, school curricula and additional programs that complement the exhibition. A full schedule of events will be available later this year at www.selby.org.

About Marie Selby Botanical Gardens

Marie Selby Botanical Gardens provides 45 acres of bayfront sanctuaries connecting people with air plants of the world, native nature, and our regional history. Established by forward-thinking women of their time, Selby Gardens is composed of the 15-acre Downtown Sarasota campus and the 30-acre Historic Spanish Point campus in the Osprey area of Sarasota County, Florida. The Downtown Campus on Sarasota Bay is the only botanical garden in the world dedicated to the display and study of epiphytic orchids, bromeliads, gesneriads and ferns, and other tropical plants.

There is a significant focus on botany, horticulture, education, historical preservation, and the environment. The Historic Spanish Point (HSP) Campus is located less than 10 miles south along Little Sarasota Bay. The HSP Campus, one of the largest preserves showcasing native Florida plants that is interpreted for and open to the public, celebrates an archaeological record that encompasses approximately 5,000 years of Florida history. Marie Selby Botanical Gardens is a Smithsonian Affiliate and is also accredited by the American Alliance of Museums.

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